Case Study – Lincoln Electric System

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Lincoln Electric System (LES) provides power to about 275,000 people in a 200 square mile service area within Lancaster County, Nebraska. LES is the second largest retail electric utility in Nebraska and the 23rd largest public power electric utility in the United States by number of retail customers.

Every six years, the utility adds more than 2,500 new customers. Recently, LES constructed a new data center to stay abreast of its increasing data storage needs and to demonstrate its reputation as a progressive leader in the community. Numerous challenges face the utility industry today — many of which relate to electric industry regulation and compliance. Security plays a vital role in a nation’s electric infrastructure and the mandates for physical security, cyber security and customer privacy compliance are growing as fast as the need for power.

The North American Electrical Reliability Corporation (NERC) is the organization with the mission to ensure reliability of the North American bulk power system. NERC’s Critical Infrastructure Protection Program coordinates efforts to improve physical and cyber security for North American utilities as it relates to reliability, including standards development and compliance enforcement.

“Standards are becoming more focused on security because it is critical to operating resiliently, so naturally, security was a priority in the development of our data center,” says Pat Marik, LES Network Administrator. “Also, as part of our county-wide collaboration, LES will share rack space in the new data center with various city and county government entities — which means our needs for physical security far exceed traditional key locks and controlling perimeter access.”

LES chose to install the TZ Centurion™ system throughout the new data center because the system easily meets and even exceeds the level of protection that LES Corporate Security demanded for cabinet level micro-security. “TZ Centurion was really the only solution considered because it offers the most efficient and cost-effective way to secure our racks with a more granular level of protection,” says Marik.

“Not only does the solution enable us to control and audit access to each cabinet on a person-by-person basis and obtain timely and accurate access reports, but the system — integrated with existing work practices — enables all data center users to maintain controlled access to their racks using their existing proximity cards.” Marik continues, “The prevention or reduction of energy and property theft, vandalism, and trespassing are key aspects of operating a utility today. The TZ Centurion™ system has played a part in helping us to realize the vision of a smart energy grid that is efficient, reliable and secure.”

Lincoln Electric System was formed in 1966, and for the first time in the city’s history, a single utility began providing electric energy in and around Lincoln. In November 1970, Lincoln voters approved formation of a semi autonomous administrative board of local citizens to oversee operations of the nonprofit, customer-owned utility. Today, LES services approximately 200 square miles within Lancaster County in Nebraska, including the cities and towns of Lincoln, Waverly, Walton, Prairie Home, Cheney and Emerald. LES rates rank in the lowest 10 percent in the country, according to a nationwide survey of 106 U.S. cities.

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