They’re a department of just three, but on a daily basis, they work with one of the most expansive infrastructures of any electric utility in the state of Alabama.

Baldwin EMC’s system communications team provides maintenance and supervision over the technology that makes it possible for the co-op’s wide network of equipment to communicate among each other and with the co-op’s control center.

This technology includes everything from Baldwin EMC’s advanced metering infrastructure, distribution control equipment, Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition Systems, radios, microwave network system, substation controls and much, much more.

All of these play an absolutely critical role in Baldwin EMC’s ability to distribute power to its members, and to identify, track and restore outages efficiently when they occur.

Because their job involves close interactions with high voltage electricity, sometimes inside of substations, this group has to go through a substantial amount of training and preparation in order to perform their job safely.

They also utilize personal protective equipment, including flame retardant clothing, eye protection, hard hats, and steel-toe boots.

Beyond just overseeing and maintaining Baldwin EMC’s current network of system communication devices, this team also has to accommodate for the fact that technology is an ever-moving target.

Baldwin EMC’s system communications team helps evaluate whether or not existing technology is meeting the coop’s steadily growing needs, and which upgrades would be beneficial at what times.

On occasions, Baldwin EMC’s system communications team has to respond to worst-case scenario events. Such was the case in the late hours of April 14, 2018, when lightning struck Baldwin EMC’s Rosinton substation, causing a violent arc flash that was seen by several neighboring residents. The substation suffered extensive damage, much of it to the system communication equipment such as remote terminal units, controls, radios, and data collectors. Members of Baldwin EMC’s system communications team were on the scene soon after the resulting flames died down. They played a pivotal role in communication and restructuring equipment, and worked extensively with Baldwin EMC’s wholesale power supplier, PowerSouth Energy Cooperative, during the substation’s repair and reconstruction.

Baldwin EMC’s ability to use technology to provide top-tier service to its members is one of the things that sets the co-op apart from other utilities in the area. The system communications that allow members to see outages in real time, and enjoy shorter than average restoration times, is the work of a small group of employees with a large purpose.

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