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Newton-Evans Research Co. has released highlights of findings from its newly published study of energy management system (EMS), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system, distribution management system (DMS), and outage management system (OMS) usage patterns among North American electric power utilities.

Among the observations gleaned from interviews and surveys with more than 110 participants from a wide range of participating U.S. and Canadian electric utilities are the following:

- Plans call for upgrades or retrofits to EMS and SCADA systems among a large percentage of these utilities. Related industry expenditures will likely increase by more than 25% over the next 24 months.

- Plans for procurements of new DMS and OMS are significant, with more than one quarter of respondents planning to purchase a new or replacement DMS and nearly one-in-five planning OMS procurements.

- Eighty percent of utility officials cited a need for cyber security features to be designed as an integral part of their control systems, not provided as an "add on." Most officials also called for control systems integrators to do more to make North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) compliance and regulatory reporting easier and more automated.

- Third-party services are being used and relied upon to assist with NERC Critical Infrastructure Protection compliance issues, for the conduct of vulnerability assessments and for consulting on smart grid topics.

- DNP 3 continues to be the most prevalent operational data communications protocol throughout North American electric power utilities. Plans call for continuing the use of DNP 3 for the foreseeable future, among the majority of these utilities. Increased use of IEC 61850 for intra-substation communications has been reported in newly constructed transmission substations.

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