Tantalus, provider of TUNet®, an industry-leading smart grid communications network and applications platform, is offering a newly enhanced network overlay package designed for rural electric cooperative and municipal utilities that currently utilise automated meter reading (AMR) via power line carrier (PLC) technology. This hybrid 220MHz-900MHz wireless network solution is designed to provide reliable systemwide coverage over widespread and challenging terrain in a matter of days while effectively extending the useful life of PLC. This provides a cost-effective migration option for utilities across North America with existing investments in millions of already deployed PLC-connected endpoints.
“As an early adopter of PLC for AMR, we have seen a great deal of change in the industry,” remarked Sean Middleton, manager of engineering for Illinois Rural Electric Cooperative (IREC). “In nearly two decades with PLC, we found that while reliable, the inherent data delivery limitations of one-way technology hindered our ability to adopt advanced applications such as demand management, dynamic pricing, and real-time outage notification. As a cooperative utility, finding an affordable AMR to AMI option like TUNet that reliably delivers real-time information in support of advanced applications has been the key for us to address rising peak demand and ultimately, keep rates low for our members.”
Tantalus is demonstrating its AMR-to-AMI overlay capability this week at TechAdvantage, the nation’s technology event for electric cooperative utilities. IREC, along with numerous other cooperatives including Fleming-Mason Energy (KY), Inland Power & Light (WA), and Deep East Texas EC (TX) have recently adopted this unique low capital cost AMI solution. In addition to the initial automation of basic processes such as meter reading, many of these cooperatives are in the process of phasing out one-way PLC assets and replacing them with two-way devices. This paced migration mitigates asset write-off while providing the means to expand AMI initiatives to include applications such as member-accessible energy dashboards, prepaid electricity, electric, water, and gas interval data, and load control on a single network platform.
“In 2014, Tantalus welcomed 17 new rural electric cooperatives and municipal utilities to our customer base of over 75 public power utilities. Our close partnering relationship and focus on public power affords us a unique opportunity to ‘think like a utility’ as we deliver long-term value to our customers through the thoughtful application of technology that addresses specific utility business needs,” stated Peter Londa, Tantalus president and CEO. “We are pleased to see, specifically in the rural electric cooperative market, that our focus on developing a flexible and cost-effective migration approach to adopting advanced applications serves as a viable path towards smart grid that otherwise may have been delayed.”