Customer Success Stories | Energy | Critical Infrastructure | Jun 26, 2023 9:17:22 PM
Northern Wasco County People’s Utility District (NWCPUD) is a customer-owned utility that provides nearly 25,000 people and businesses with electricity in Wasco County, Oregon. They take great pride in providing electrical services with high reliability ratings while maintaining some of the lowest rates.
To service the 87-square-mile territory, NWCPUD deployed a SCADA system, but they needed a way to communicate with each facility from the central office. In addition, NWCPUD wanted to provide their engineers with remote access to the equipment to speed up troubleshooting during outages.
Initially, NWCPUD had no communications with the remote facilities. They first explored radio communications options but had concerns about speed and reliability as well as maintenance requirements. They landed on a cellular router solution from a reputable vendor and established VPN connections between those routers and a firewall in the main office. While this solution connected the sites, they ran into some major problems.
The biggest issue was that there were frequent interruptions in the VPN connections. Sometimes the VPN tunnel would not reestablish itself following an interruption. That left the NWCPUD team disconnected from the remote site for hours. To fix this was a heavy lift from the IT department. Because the cellular routers and firewall were from different vendors, IT spent several months working with both vendors, but ultimately failed to resolve the problem.
With the struggles that NWCPUD was facing, the Director of Engineering, Operations and Technology, Jeff Teel decided to reach out to Tosibox to discuss a solution. He knew about Tosibox from his previous job at an engineering consulting firm. Jeff trusted Tosibox because while at the consulting firm, “we tried several options before Tosibox proved to be the most simple, secure, and reliable solution for remote access.”
Jeff engaged the Tosibox sales team and learned about the Virtual Central Lock (VCL) and newest products then deployed a proof of concept for NWCPUD. “It worked great and was as easy to configure and deploy as I remembered,” Jeff recalls. NWCPUD rolled out Tosibox at all major sites throughout their territory and replaced the other vendors’ cellular routers with Tosibox 670s. Jeff reports, “the system has been up and running well ever since.”
The IT department supported the initial configuration of the VCL, but Jeff and his team easily configured and deployed all the other Tosibox hardware. “This has been a great time saver for us. The added ability to connect directly to each remote site, with the option to bypass the VCL entirely, is a unique capability of Tosibox,” Jeff added.
NWCPUD has connected all major facilities with Tosibox. However, there is still other equipment in the service territory that they look forward to having the ability to communicate with remotely and securely. They plan to further expand the Tosibox footprint and connect these other locations when their time and budget allows.