System control and data acquisition (SCADA) first went on-line at Rushmore Electric Power Cooperative (Rushmore) in late 1987. The system was installed to aggregate real time G&T load information, but it quickly grew in size and scope. Since the Rushmore metered delivery points encompass a significant part of central and western South Dakota, the communications infrastructure needed to support SCADA grew as well.
The SCADA communications system was first developed and supported with the assistance of outside vendors, in addition to the very limited Rushmore staff. At about this same time, there became a growing need to substantially overhaul and/or replace the legacy voice radio systems owned individually by the Rushmore member systems. The use of wide area networks and increased capacity digital radio also began to take off during this period. By the late 1990s, it had become clear that establishment of a telecommunications department at Rushmore would be helpful.
In 1998, Rushmore bought out the assets of Southern Hills Communications located at the time in Custer, SD. The purchase brought with it the employees of Southern Hills, a new tower facility located at Bear Mountain and a substantial inventory of radio and electronic components.
The new business was incorporated as Rushmore Communications, Inc. It was structured as a stand-alone, self supporting entity, owned in whole by Rushmore Electric Power Cooperative, Inc. The end goal was to support the operations of Rushmore SCADA, provide communications assistance to the Rushmore distribution cooperative member systems and to develop the private business already served by Southern Hills.
The RCI operation has grown over time and it presently is staffed by four employees. In addition to serving the internal needs of Rushmore Electric Power Cooperative and Rushmore’s distribution cooperative member systems, the business also does work for private users and state and local government entities.
Rushmore Communications also provides indirect support to the South Dakota State Radio through its dealer franchise agreement with EF Johnson.
Because of RCI’s unique relationship with Rushmore Electric Power Cooperative and Rushmore Engineering, the business is able to offer a depth of SCADA knowledge and engineering project support not available from a conventional two-way radio shop. Department specialties include:
- 2-Way Radio
- Analog & Digital Multiplex
- Antenna Installs & Maintenance
- Cell Phone Installs & Repeaters
- Fiber Installation & Terminations
- Mobile Data
- Propagation Studies
- Public Safety Installs
- SCADA IED & Protocol Integration
- State of South Dakota Digital Radio Installation & Maintenance
- Terrestrial Microwave Radio
Rushmore Communications can provide products from and service for a number of equipment vendors. These vendors include:
- Alcatel Microwave Radio
- Coastcom Multiplex
- CPI *
- EF Johnson *
- Eventide *
- JPS / Raytheon *
- Kenwood *
- Loop Multiplex
- Newmar DC Systems
- RELM / Bendix-King (B-K)
- Western Multiplex
- Zetron *
Asterisk above indicates an authorized dealer relationship.
Rushmore Communications, Inc. maintains a shop at the headquarters of Rushmore Electric Power Cooperative Inc. at 1715 Cambell Street in Rapid City, S.D. The firm is also available to perform on-site repairs and installs at locations throughout western South Dakota.