Verizon tells IoT Now how it plans to roll out the PenLight smart grid in Washington State

As we reported earlier this month, Verizon has been chosen to update Washington State’s Peninsula Light Company (PenLight) power distribution system with Verizon’s Grid Wide Utility Services Intelligent Energy platform. Electricity meters equipped with Verizon cellular connectivity will replace end-of-life meters in the homes and businesses of more than 33,000 PenLight members.

Here, Verizon’s, director of product and New Business Innovation, Jay Olearain talks exclusively to IoT Now’s editorial director, Jeremy Cowan about the deal and how the meters can then be managed using Verizon’s Grid Wide platform. (Also see our News report: https://www.iot-now.com/2019/08/05/97967-verizon-lights-way-future-smart-grid-technology-peninsula-light-company/ )

IoT Now: How many meters will Verizon be deploying for PenLight, and over what length of time?

Jay Olearain, Verizon: Approximately 33,000 meters will be deployed starting Q4, 2019 through the first half of 2020.

IoT Now: Which company designed the meters: PenLight, Verizon or an OEM?

Verizon: PenLight will be purchasing Aclara meters from the local Aclara distributor, Anixter.

IoT Now: What is PenLight’s primary goal with this roll-out? New service enablement, cost reduction, more accurate billing, or something else?

Verizon: We have several goals;

  • Improved power outage recording and confirmation
  • Improved outage response time
  • Notification of problems that cause outages
  • Improved billing and customer service
  • Improved meter reporting accuracy, and
  • Improved operational efficiencies.

IoT Now: Which other utility companies has Verizon already worked with, and what lessons has Verizon learned from them?

Verizon: Verizon has worked with a number of utilities across the United States that includes cooperatives like Peninsula Light, as well as municipalities and Inventor Owned Utilities (IOUs). Through these relationships, Verizon has listened to its customers who want: access to an existing world-class network with excellent coverage, secured data both at rest and in-transit, hosted software so they can focus their resources on the services they offer, a choice of metering hardware, and the ability to deploy services quickly with minimal effort – all at a reasonable cost.

IoT Now: How long will it take for PenLight to achieve a 100% Return on Investment (ROI) from this deployment? 

Verizon: This question should be directed to PenLight.

IoT Now: Are further deployment phases planned at PenLight after the current 33,000 homes and businesses? If so, how many more users will be connected, and when?

Jeremy Cowan

Verizon: This deployment of 33,000 meters includes their entire service territory. As such, the only additions will be for new development and possibly for other Verizon solutions.

IoT Now: Which connection technologies (e.g. 3G, 4G, LPWAN) are Verizon using in this rollout? And why particularly these?

Verizon: 

  • Electric meters equipped with 4G LTE Cat M1 modems will be installed in the homes and businesses of PenLight customers.
  • 4G LTE Cat M1 is perfect for IoT devices on the Verizon network. Cat M1 is a cost-effective alternative that provides the benefits of improved coverage and a deeper reach through walls, floors and in-ground by narrowing bandwidth and lowering data rates that are not required for metering applications.

IoT Now: First generation smart meters in some markets (notably the UK) have been unable to switch to alternative service providers without a truck roll when customers change utility. Can these meters change service by OTA when customers switch?

Verizon: Typically, the energy will run through the same lines and same meters that already go to your home or business —the only thing that changes is where the energy comes from. However, customers should check with their alternative service provider.

Jay Olearain of Verizon was talking to IoT Now’s Jeremy Cowan.

Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @IoTNow_OR @jcIoTnow

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