Planned in the 20th century for 21st century energy grid
To improve electric system reliability and meet our OPALCO communication needs, grid-control began with the first fiber-optic network build out in 1999. This high-speed data communications backbone has been in operation since 2001 to connect our Co-op operations on three islands. This fiber-optic backbone lets OPALCO improve reliability, safety and energy efficiency by means of automated and remote control and monitoring of our system across the 20 islands we serve.
Today, the grid control backbone consists of more than 100 miles of fiber-optic lines that connect OPALCO substations and monitoring and communications devices. All Co-op members share the cost and the benefits of this backbone.
Growing the backbone
OPALCO continues to expand the grid control backbone to connect more electric field devices. This expansion lets us reach further to serve our members and fill key gaps in communication coverage for our field crews to increase their safety.
The expanded backbone has grown to support communication for all local Emergency Services and first responders, including the national First Responders Network (FirstNet).
Need more details about what constitutes grid control and how members benefit? Check out Who Pays for Grid Control and the Grid Control Backbone? to read about its evolution.
Through our wholly owned subsidiary, Rock Island Communications, members can now access our fiber backbone for broadband services where available and as it is economically feasible.
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