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Volume 2, Number 3  |  SUMMER 2009

IN THIS ISSUE:


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The Okanogan County Public Utility District (PUD), which has served municipalities in the largest county in Washington State for over 60 years, recently became the 300th utility to purchase the Aclara™ TWACS® technology. The PUD recently began a two-year advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) project to deploy the system, which will collect interval data from 22, 000 electric meters, perform outage management, and do engineering analysis of transformer loading.

The utility chose TWACS technology because of its reliability. "We focused on finding a solution that was mature and that had the bugs worked out of it," said Doug Adams, Manager of Operation for Okanogan County PUD.

"We were also constrained by our terrain, which consists of a series of peaks and valleys, to power line technology," added Adams. "The TWACS technology has worked flawlessly for us."
Okanogan County PUD shares a substation with another TWACS technology customer, Okanogan Electric Cooperative, which serves about 3000 customers. The cooperative’s positive experience with TWACS technology was also a factor in the PUD’s decision.

The primary reason the PUD moved to AMI was to provide more regular meter reading. Without TWACS, the PUD read meters once every two months, often using estimation to generate bills for customers. TWACS can provide hourly meter reads, allowing the utility to eliminate estimated bills.

TWACS will read meters remotely by communicating over power lines and the fiber-optic network that was developed by the PUD to provide telecommunications to its customers. In addition to providing regular meter reading, the system will offer immediate access to information about loads, voltages, meter tampering, and outages.

Okanogan is using TWACS PROasys software to pinpoint the extent of outages. The software works by signaling meters to determine which ones are working. The utility also will use iVUE software from the National Information Solutions Cooperative to help map the location of outages as well as to dispatch repair crews.

Each customer meter will be checked for outages daily, allowing the utility to immediately identify meters that have stopped working, rather than waiting to find them when the meter is physically read. In addition, the system will provide customer service representatives with better information, allowing them to handle customer inquiries better. TWACS technology also will make it easier for the utility to switch accounts from one person to another.

OTHER ITEMS OF INTEREST:

Three-Day Aclara Client Conference Draws Over 400 Customers

Although many meetings and conferences have suffered with the difficult economy, this April the Aclara Client Conference drew over 400 customers to St. Louis to participate in education programs and drive the future of Aclara products. The conference is the premier education and networking event for clients of Aclara technology solutions.

This year’s conference offered over 50 sessions across three technical tracks as well as six webinars open to customers who could not attend in St. Louis. Customers were encouraged to participate in discussions to share best practices and put together recommendations and action plans to improve Aclara products and services. In addition, clients were briefed on upcoming product enhancements and developments.

Conference participants discussed how the country is on the cusp of a new economic era, with the anticipated build out of Intelligent Infrastructure™ by utilities in the electric, gas, and water industries replacing the petroleum economy as the engine of innovation and economic growth. Presentations and sessions focused on how Aclara networking solutions are helping utilities meet their requirements for developing an Intelligent Infrastructure for immediate and future requirements.

The Aclara Client conference continues to grow as customers realize the value in being able to network with other users, evaluate product performance, and recommend improvements to products and services. The next Aclara Client Conference is scheduled for May 10-13, 2010 in St. Louis.

South American Utility Chooses TWACS Power-Line Technology to Automate Meter Reading on Two Islands

Colombian utility Empresas de Energia del Archipiélago de San Andres S.A. E.S.P. (EEDAS S.A. E.S.P.) is deploying the Aclara TWACS technology on the islands of San Andres and Providencia.

The project, undertaken in conjunction with the utility’s net operator Sociedad Productora de Energia de San Andres y Providencia S.A. E.S.P. (SOPESA S.A.), will ultimately serve five substations, 15 feeders, and 16,300 meter services across both locations. The initial stage of the implementation will begin in 2009, followed by full deployment completion in 2010.

A major objective of the plan is to reduce technical and non-technical energy losses. In the first stage this would amount to cutting losses from 34% to 12% on two feeders. In addition, the utility wants to use the data provided by TWACS technology to eliminate estimated billing. This will significantly advance the electrical infrastructure to a state-of-the-art implementation and is expected to serve as a gateway for further deployments in Colombia.

"TWACS technology is demonstrated in applications across the region, including a large installation by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) that involves 1.4 million meters capable of managing daily and hourly reads," said Roberto Barto, Aclara’s Senior Vice President, International. "Our widely proven and utilized TWACS AMI technology works not only via overhead power lines, but also over underground and submerged power cabling, making it the perfect application for use in areas that employ these methods of distribution."

"Aclara has proven its commitment to the vital regions in Latin America and the Caribbean with other implementations in Brazil, the Dominican Republic, the British Virgin Islands, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico. Our experience and proven technology make us the first choice for advanced metering infrastructure in these regions," said Bruce Phillips, Group President of Aclara.

New York City Innovates as It Implements AMI

Cecil McMaster
Assistant Commissioner and CIO
New York City Department of Environmental Protection

Warren C. Liebold
Director, Metering/Conservation
New York City Department of Environmental Protection

 

New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is installing a fixed network AMI system leveraging existing rooftop wireless sites installed by the city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) and designing a new set of software tools for tracking and organizing the installation of 850,000 AMI transmitters (MTUs) and replacement of 400,000 water meters.

DEP is the water and wastewater utility for this world-class city of seven million plus another million suburban users to the north. On average 4.54 MI/day of water is delivered and 5.68 Ml/day of wastewater treated in 14 plants. In 2005 DEP began planning the systematic replacement of the approximately 400,000 residential meters installed in the early years of its universal metering program (1988 – 1997). DEP realized that if it was going to have to enter all those customer basements to replace meters it should take that access opportunity to install AMR/AMI equipment at the same time. A planned meter replacement program began to drive a decision on AMR/AMI.

DEP outsourced routine cycle meter reading to the local electric utility years before so reducing meter reading costs is only a secondary reason for pursuing AMR or AMI. A more important factor was that neither DEP nor the local electric utility currently reading water meters had been able to move beyond an 85% actual read rate. 45% of DEP’s field inspection resources are spent trying to obtain verified reads during billing disputes. Advancing from 85% actual reads to over 95% was and is seen as key to improved collections, better water use data and a qualitative improvement in DEP’s credibility and customer service.

During 2006-2008 DoITT designed and built a citywide wireless system (NYCWiN) based on GHz-level frequency communications. Although designed mostly for first responder communications, the system has capabilities and capacity for improving wireless field communications for many city agencies, including data and graphics. Most importantly from the perspective of AMR/AMI, DoITT sited and leased more than 400 rooftop and pole top locations for the NYCWiN equipment. These locations have been used to site the data collection units (DCUs) for the AMI system with the DCUs using Ethernet connections to NYCWiN for data transmission back to a Network Operations Center. The Ethernet connection between the DCUs and the NYCWiN allows the AMI system to operate in an "always on" mode.

With strong support from a technology-savvy mayoral administration, the project moved from business plan in 2006 to RFP release in May 2007 to a field pilot test of two finalist technology products during July to September 2007 to system contact award to Aclara RF System Inc. in May 2008 and detailed design that same year. Replacement of the water meters and installation of the AMI MTUs is being performed through competitively bid contracts with the city split into 12 contract areas. These contracts were bid during the spring and summer of 2008. Northrup-Grumman began installing the rooftop data collection units in November 2008 and will be complete by August 2009. Meter and MTU installation work began in March 2009 in phases.

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Aclara Goes Green with Carbon Footprint Module

Every individual, organization, event or product, in some way, gives off a greenhouse gas emission creating a unique carbon footprint. Increasingly we are trying to find ways to reduce this carbon footprint, which can have negative effects on the environment. The Aclara Carbon Footprint Module helps bring awareness to this issue and provides a useful tool to help:

  1. Educate residential customers on their carbon emissions and what makes up their carbon footprint.
  2. Assist customers in quantifying their current carbon footprint.
  3. Illustrate to customers how their emissions compare to others.
  4. Promote efficient, carbon-reducing practices.
  5. Identify beneficial green programs hosted by their utility or other 3rd parties.

The application is simple to use as customers input information on their home, transportation, current energy and water usage, and waste. Then with a click of a button, they see an updated carbon emissions output.

Looking at the Numbers

The Carbon Footprint Module contributions are displayed graphically and categorized as household, transportation, or waste and will be compared against the national average.

The module then provides a list of suggested actions that customers can take to reduce their carbon emissions as well as links to beneficial utility programs or a green power program.

Making it Work for You

Since no two utilities are the same, clients can request specific configurations with regards to the following:

Inputs: Clients may eliminate some of the default inputs or rearrange the order of the questions.

Analytics: Utilities may customize the carbon emission factors, instead of using the default regional inputs, so they are consistent with carbon factors used in other applications.

Outputs: Carbon Footprint

  • Project managers can configure labels and other information displayed on the suggestion actions page.
  • Clients can specify benchmark carbon footprint values to compare regional, global, national, and state emissions averages.

Actions: Clients may update information on a variety of efficiency measures such as lighting, HVAC upgrades, controls, solar energy, and green energy rates.

Integrating Billing Data

The Aclara Carbon Footprint Module supports the integration of gas, electricity, and water billing-data. The module also automatically pre-populates the associated energy consumption fields and profile information from other Aclara applications such as Home Energy Center or Bill Prism. The software does provide the ability to overwrite the data.

When billing data is not available for one or more of the fuels used in the home, the customer’s energy use will be estimated based on their home characteristics.

For more information, contact:

Robert DiBella
Director, Product Management
781-694-3326
rdibella@aclara.com

Customers input information on their home, transportation, current energy and water usage, and waste to see an updated carbon emissions output.

The module provides a list of suggested actions that customers can take to reduce their carbon emission.

New Contract Wins

  • Avista, NV Energy, PPL Electric Utilities, and The United Illuminating Company have signed on to implement the Aclara Software carbon module to assist with their customers green initiatives.
  • The Colombian utility, Empresas de Energia del Archipiélago de San Andres S.A. E.S.P. (EEDAS S.A. E.S.P.), is deploying the Aclara TWACS AMI technology on the islands of San Andres and Providencia. The utility will use the technology primarily for meter reading but also to reduce energy losses and eliminate estimated billing.
  • Pepco Holdings, Inc. expanded their agreement to add the Load and Rate Analysis and Carbon modules for their customers, beginning in Delaware.  
  • Vectren Corporation is expanding the use of their business application by using the Aclara Software screening tool for their call center representatives.  This will allow them to provide an enhanced energy analysis and report to their business customers.
  • Tri-County EMC in Florida has selected TWACS technology as their AMI solution. The conversion of the utility’s 25,000 electric meters will include all hardware, software, and support services.
  • Okanogan PUD of Washington state recently signed on as Aclara's 300th customer. The utility will outfit 22,000 electric meters with TWACS technology including all hardware, software, and support services.
  • Princeton Electric Power Board in Kentucky has chosen TWACS technology for their AMI solution. Installation on the 4,000 electric meters will begin in June 2009 and the solution includes hardware, software, and support services.