Week in smart metering - US utilities in the spotlight

US power utilities have been recognized for smart grid excellence, writes Amy Ryan, deputy editor, Metering & Smart Energy International.
Published: Wed 06 Jul 2016

US power utilities have been in the spotlight of late, with Florida, Power & Light (FP&L), as well as CenterPoint Energy receiving international recognition for excellence in smart grid with the International Smart Grid Action Network (ISGAN) Awards.

FP&L was awarded for its Automated Fault Mapping Prediction System which affords the utility “unprecedented” visibility across its grid, to detect and neutralise problems, before they become issues for its customers. The system is also said to have reduced costs and improved system reliability, “which is the best in Florida and among the best in the nation – nearly 50% better than the national average,” claims the utility company. FP&L has also said that smart grid technology has helped improve its service reliability by more than 25% over the past five years. [FP&L smart grid project wins ISGAN award]

In the Southern US, Houston-based CenterPoint Energy’s smart meter deployment was an important driver resulting in its ISGAN win and award of the Global Smart Grid Federation Best Smart Grid Project for 2016. The utility embarked on a large-scale rollout covering 3.4 million gas customers and 2.4 million electricity customers providing the utility with 96 data points per day, per meter – a far cry from the meter readings that occurred 50 days late that were used to determine how much wholesale supply was needed to serve the market. [CenterPoint Energy recognised with ISGAN smart grid award]

While advancements in technology have undoubtedly propelled the electricity grid into the 21st century, there are those who have dedicated their lives to devising and architecting systems and solutions that have helped navigate the vision of creating the intelligent power grid of the future.

One such person is Erich Gunther, co-founder, chairman and CTO of EnerNex and VP of the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) board, who passed away late last month. Gunther was praised for his leadership in fostering collaboration among a wide range of stakeholders to accelerate technology adoption in the energy industry. [In memory of smart grid trailblazer Erich Gunther]

He was considered a ‘pioneer’ in smart grid and spent more than 30 years designing and developing innovative solutions for a wide array of power system problems.

Erich served on numerous boards committee of industry association and groups including the IEEE, NIST, UTC and SGIP.

He is remembered as a leader, visionary and trusted colleague amongst his peers. Jeff Lamoree, EnerNex CEO, said: “Erich’s tremendous leadership, vision and passion for the electric power industry had an impact on the community, the country and the world. We are proud of his legacy and the firm will continue to uphold the standards he set for excellence and integrity. All of us will miss him greatly.”

More from Metering & Smart Energy International

Itron has announced that its JV firm Mecoindo has been selected by Indonesian power utility Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PT PLN) for the rollout of a metering project. In a press statement, the smart grid firm said Mecoindo, a joint venture of Itron and an Indonesian firm, secured a contract to provide the utility with some 635,000 Itron smart payment meters. [Itron firm wins smart prepayment deal in Indonesia]. The prepaid meters will be installed to help PT PLN’s customers better manage their electricity usage. On the side of the state owned power company, the system is expected to help to simplify customer service, lower operational costs and reduce delinquent account risks, while improving cash flow.

The US City of Cuero in Texas announced its plans to complete its smart meters project by the end of July to improve the operations of its utility departments. Kickstarted in April, 2016, the US$1.9m automated metering infrastructure (AMI) project aims to replace the city's existing analog water and electric meters with smart models. [Texas city embarks on smart meter rollout]. The project targets to install 3,400 smart electric and 3,000 smart water meters. In so doing, the city is expecting to enhance its revenue collection through the curbing of non-revenue water incurred as a result of water leakages and power theft.

Smart grid technologies firm Smart Grid Solutions (SGS) said it completed an automated metering infrastructure (AMI) project for US power co-operative Kenergy Corporation. In a press statement, SGS said it deployed its project planning platform ProFieldMETER’s DayToute module to help the western customer-owned utility to implement its smart meters project. [Kentucky utility signs SGS to simplify AMI rollout]. The company deployed 52,000 smart meters two months ahead of schedule. Kenergy started its smart meters deployment project in January, 2015.

US utility Santa Fe Irrigation District announced its plans to deploy a project to improve its revenue collection and help customers reduce their water usage and costs. The California water utility will replace 7,300 of its existing water meters with smart meters as from August through to 2021 to ensure accurate billing. [California water utility approves smart meter rollout]. By deploying the US$5.5 bn project, the water district aims to improve the management of its distribution network by having access to real time insights on the status of the network.

Related Webinar