Growing Number of Electric Utilities Turn to Point-to-Multipoint Networks as They Pursue Distribution Automation and Other Smart Grid Projects
St. Louis, MO /PRNewswire/ - The modern electric grid requires a far more sophisticated and robust distribution network than ever before. A new playbook from Utility Dive, entitled Get to the Point, examines the benefits of point-to-multipoint (P2MP) network architecture for advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) when it comes to future-proofing grid operations, maximizing reliability and enhancing resiliency.
Produced in conjunction with Aclara, a smart infrastructure solutions provider to electric, gas and water utilities and a division of Hubbell Utility Solutions, the playbook looks at how grid modernization is driving the need for advanced and flexible communications technologies. It illustrates the benefits of P2MP with two examples of utilities that have selected P2MP for recent deployments – Guadalupe Valley Electric Cooperative (GVEC) and PenTex Energy, both located in Texas.
In the playbook, both utilities emphasize how important the data collected from meters over the AMI system is to the implementation of applications that improve customer service and utility operations, including collecting payments online and gaining better visibility into grid conditions.
"We are able to see near real-time data with our new Aclara RF™ electric network. The network will allow us to be more proactive versus being reactive," said Neil Hesse, general manager of PenTex.
"Data has absolutely become more a part of who we are as a utility and who we are as a company," said Sean Alvarez, the chief operating officer of GVEC. "It helps us in so many ways to make intelligent business decisions."
Sean Alvarez also cited numerous benefits of the Aclara RF system over alternatives including the flexibility and expandability of the solution as well as the fact that it operates on licensed frequencies.
As utilities continue to explore new approaches and tools to upgrade their existing network architectures and manage an increasingly distributed grid, distribution automation (DA) has emerged as one of the most effective ways to modernize the grid. DA allows utilities to handle and optimize the many impending and already realized tectonic changes that they are experiencing.
"To deliver on their promise on DA, utilities will require a vital, robust and scalable communications network," said Kumi Premathilake, division vice president, AMI and services, Hubbell Utility Solutions. "Without sophisticated and reliable communications, it will be a challenge for utilities to achieve the sort of automation, real-time control, and visibility that distribution grid operators increasingly need."
The playbook also makes the case that the characteristics of P2MP networks, including near-real-time latency, built-in resilience, and the ability to prioritize data on the network, are needed when a fast response to outages or changes to grid conditions is required.
Aclara, a division of Hubbell Utility Solutions, is a world-class supplier of smart infrastructure solutions (SIS) and services to more than 1,000 water, gas, and electric utilities globally. Aclara SIS offerings include smart meters and other field devices, advanced metering infrastructure and software and services that enable utilities to predict and respond to conditions, leverage their distribution networks effectively, and engage with their customers. Aclara was recently recognized for its vision and end-to-end solution strategy by Navigant Research, won a Global Smart Energy Networks Enabling Technology Leadership Award as well as a North American New Product Innovation Award from Frost & Sullivan, and was named a finalist in three categories of the Platts Global Energy Awards. Visit us at Aclara.com, follow us on Twitter @AclaraSolutions or subscribe to our blog.