Challenge :: Pockets of Data-Intensive C&I Clusters
Like many utilities, Northeastern REMC identified a specific set of customers for which smart metering offered the greatest immediate benefit. Concentrated clusters of C&I customers where real-time usage and power quality monitoring would prove valuable for the customer as well as the utility are dispersed throughout the utility's 765 square mile territory. Groups such as remote farms and agricultural centers as well as high turnover locations that regularly require off-cycle reads were costly for the utility to service and read. To target these members using an option like PLC would require the build out of numerous substations and a significant investment in infrastructure and time, so NREMC needed to investigate alternative options.
Solution :: Hybrid Wireless AMI Platform
After a rigorous evaluation, TUNet® was selected to provide two-way, real-time communications throughout Northeastern's service territory with a cost-effective ultra long-range 220 MHz wireless RF in combination with a 900 MHz LAN. Through this hybrid network, NREMC regularly receives remotely delivered 15-minute interval consumption data from 31 commercial and industrial sites throughout its service territory.
Results :: Highly Accurate 15-Minute Interval Data for Dynamic Billing
TUNet's real-time delivery of highly accurate interval reads allows NREMC to capture precise consumption data to accurately bill their high revenue accounts. The exceptional reliability of the system has resulted in significant operational savings such as the reduction of costly truck rolls and the ability to avoid challenging environmental situations such as deep snow. TUNet provides excellent visibility to the most remote endpoints. Rather than making incremental steps out to the edges of its service area before implementing advanced metering, Northeastern gains blanket coverage and the freedom to deploy advanced applications where and when they are needed most. TUNet helps the coop to continue to deliver superior service and operational excellence.
Initially, Northeastern targeted high consumption commercial and industrial accounts such as large retail outlets, manufacturing facilities, and schools. This enabled the utility to enhance customer service to C&I users, provide more rapid support during critical periods, eliminate the cost of manual meter reads and gain the detailed data to support the complex dynamic rate structures. Real-time, online monitoring of voltage and power quality can be used to detect malfunctioning equipment, which helps ensure "always on" energy availability. By fast tracking C&I, Northeastern was able to give high demand members the information they need to optimize energy management and contain costs immediately.