Illinois Rural Electric Cooperative selects Tantalus for AMI deployment


Tantalus, a leading provider of Smart Grid communications, today announced that Illinois Rural Electric Cooperative (IREC) has selected Tantalus for the design and implementation of an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) communications network for its 11,000 member electric cooperative serving ten counties in west central Illinois. In addition to AMI functionality such as remote meter reading, remote disconnect/reconnect, and voltage monitoring, IREC will also leverage TUNet® - the Tantalus Utility Network – to support a sophisticated measurement, control, and pricing structure tailored for polyphase agricultural irrigation customers.

“Our continued focus on improving quality of service for our members led us to Tantalus as our preferred AMI partner,” said Sean Middleton, Manager of Engineering at IREC.  “We were looking for the right technology match for a fairly specialized set of criteria including our need for real-time irrigation load shedding, ability to cost effectively overlay PLC, and ability to provide full coverage throughout our service territory. After evaluating other TUNet deployments firsthand, we determined that Tantalus best fit the bill in each of these areas.”

TUNet’s innovative device addressing capability will be leveraged to provide precise and tightly coordinated real-time monitoring and control of individual or groups of polyphase meters on irrigation equipment. This will enable IREC to incentivize farmers to shed load during peak with reduced energy rates and sophisticated pricing structures at the time of the event rather than waiting until the end of the season. The granularity and real time nature of data delivery will also ensure that the cooperative will be able to react quickly to peak periods by selectively triggering curtailment events, thereby avoiding disruption to any single farm or crop. IREC will overlay its existing power line carrier (PLC) system with TUNet’s ultra-long range 220 MHz WAN backhaul combined with a terrain hugging 900 MHz LAN. This architecture will serve as a cost effective and high coverage means to deploy two-way communications to far-flung farms and communities over a vast and hilly service territory.

IREC joins 19 other Tantalus deployments across seven Midwestern states including Cedar Falls Utilities, City of Auburn, Coldwater Board of Public Utilities, Laclede Electric Cooperative, Northeastern REMC, Midwest Electric Cooperative, Whitewater Valley REMC, City of Fulton, Steuben County REMC, and Ninestar Connect. TUNet has proven cost and coverage effective across this region where shared weather, geographic, and market conditions have hindered competing communications technologies. Common drivers among public power utilities in this region have been the unification of delivery of utility and telecommunication services to customers, the availability of stimulus funding for job creation, infrastructure development, and economic development, and the need to implement demand management programs to offset rising peak energy costs.

“The unique challenges that Midwest utilities face share common threads with many of our public power customers across North America,” said Tammy Zucco, CMO for Tantalus. “Our strategy of building collaborative, long-term relationships with our utility partners has resulted in the delivery of a tightly focused suite of applications that precisely meet these challenges. We’re proud to work with utilities like Illinois Rural EC to help them optimize operational efficiency, reduce costs, and improve service for their members and customers.” 

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