Loud and clear: Two-way radio system upgrade complete

Great River Energy trunked mobile radio being installed in data center

Mitch Rettmann, Great River Energy telecommunications technician/electrician (left), works with contractors to upgrade the trunked mobile radio system core equipment at the Elk River data center.

When Great River Energy line crews are dispatched to remote locations or outage areas, they need to be able to talk to each other and to system operators so they can identify where faults are located and fix the problems. To do that, they rely on their two-way radio system, or trunked mobile radio (TMR).

“Over the past 24 months, Great River Energy employees worked behind the scenes to update this critical communications system from analog to digital technology,” said Chris LeLeux, Great River Energy manager of infrastructure services. “The communication and connectivity in our service area is greatly improved because of their hard work.”

During the past year, work has been done at 81 sites across Great River Energy’s service territory and in North Dakota. More than 850 new radios, including more than 580 owned by Great River Energy member cooperatives, have been installed in field trucks and at Great River Energy and member cooperative offices.

”It’s been challenging, but we have the reward of providing a highly reliable telecommunications system for years to come,” said Doug Gregersen, Great River Energy telecommunications leader.

It’s a short celebration, though, as employees now move to work on the fiber backhaul and the 700 MHz projects (learn all about those technologies below). These three projects are critical to grid evolution as Great River Energy works to shape its future and provide more options for Great River Energy member cooperatives, as well as improve reliability and security.

Trunked mobile radio – A TMR system is a complex computer-controlled two-way radio system that allows sharing of a few radio frequency channels among a large group of users and organizations, such as Great River Energy and its member cooperatives.

Fiber backhaul – A fiber backhaul network is the backbone that supports other systems such as advanced metering infrastructure, automated meter reading and distribution automation. Great River Energy’s fiber backhaul network is a wired connection that links everything together in order to pass data back and forth among Great River Energy locations.

700MHz wireless – Great River Energy’s 700 MHz wireless broadband (SCADA) network connects to most of its transmission substations and its members’ distribution substations and automated switches.