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Sep 19 2006
NORTHEASTERN REMC MOVES AHEAD
Vancouver, BC, Canada – September 19, 2006 – Northeastern REMC announced that it will move forward with plans to deploy advanced metering to all of its 26,000 meters, with full implementation to be completed by the end of 2010. The Indiana electric utility selected TUNet® – the Tantalus Utility Network – to serve as the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) which will enable it to automatically capture hourly energy consumption data, remotely monitor power quality, and instantly detect power outages throughout its service area.
Northeastern endorsed full-scale adoption of AMI following a successful year-long project in which it performed an extensive pilot project to validate the technology and business case. Northeastern President and CEO Gregg Kiess cited numerous business, operational and customer service advantages on which the rural electric membership corporation based its decision. Among these were improved operational data and customer service tools, reduced meter reading costs, fewer truck rolls to perform off-cycle meter reads, faster service response to inquiries, safer working conditions, and an ability to pinpoint outages in real time and restore power more promptly.
TUNet serves as the two-way, wireless communications backbone network on which data is relayed between meters and the utility. Each meter will be outfitted with a radio modem that transmits consumption reads, voltage levels, and outage alerts to the utility on scheduled intervals. Northeastern staff can also communicate with individual meters or groups of devices over the secure network in order to gauge power quality or investigate distribution issues.
As the first step in this deployment, Northeastern is focusing on high consumption commercial and industrial (C&I) accounts such as large retail outlets, manufacturing facilities, and schools. The ability to prioritize specific account types through surgical deployment helps Northeastern enhance customer service to C&I users, respond rapidly to issues during critical periods, eliminate the cost of manual meter reads, and provide the utility with detailed data to support the complex dynamic rate structures used in C&I applications. Real-time, online monitoring of voltage and power quality can be used to detect malfunctioning equipment, which helps ensure “always on” energy availability.
“A selective, step-by-step approach to full deployment makes sense,” said Kiess. “By fast tracking C&I, we give high demand members the information they need to optimize energy management and contain costs immediately. To target these members using other technologies would have required a heavy investment in infrastructure, staff resources, and time. The long-term value is that we have already established an AMI communications network that supports follow-on applications like load control and distribution automation, and that possesses ample bandwidth for all our commercial and residential customers.”
Eric Murray, Tantalus’ Senior VP of Sales & Business Operations, said: “We are pleased to be working with such a progressive group. Northeastern’s approach focuses on leveraging AMI data across the organization in a cost-effective fashion and frees up critical resources quickly so it can prioritize deployment to specific customers, operational challenges, or revenue opportunities that have the greatest impact on the utility and its members.”
“A wireless communications network proved to be the best fit for us,” said Kiess. “The flexibility, speed, scalability, and broad coverage provide the freedom to deploy when desired and wherever the business case is most compelling. The operational versatility this technology now affords us will help us to continue to provide superior member service and operational excellence at a very reasonable cost.”
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About Northeastern REMC