Tantalus, a leading provider of Smart Grid communications, announced the completion of several advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) deployments within the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the nation’s largest public power provider. TVA is comprised of 155 distribution utilities serving more than 9 million customers spread across seven southeastern states. This news was announced in conjunction with the 68th Annual Conference of the Tennessee Valley Public Power Association (TVPPA) in Point Clear, Alabama. Tantalus had been selected by numerous utilities within TVA for the design and implementation of TUNet® - the Tantalus Utility Network – a hybrid 200 MHz/900 MHz wireless that can simultaneously use FTTH/Ethernet to form a single AMI communications platform. These utilities utilize both Itron and GE smart meters and are now complete or nearing completion of their systems.
Utilities such as Chattanooga EPB, Bristol Virginia Utilities, Johnson City Power Board, Jackson Energy Authority, Lenoir City Utilities Board, Morristown Utility Systems, Pulaski Electric System, Newport Utilities, and Appalachian Electric Cooperative have utilized TUNet AMI functionality for several years and have recently begun to transition to layering advanced applications on their base smart grid networks. These utilities boast full-scale two-way smart metering platforms that support interval and on-demand meter reads, remote disconnect/reconnect services, instantaneous outage reporting, and over-the-air firmware upgrades. Many have also utilized integrations into existing utility OMS, SCADA, MDM, and billing systems, further enhancing their smart grid implementation strategies.
These developments among utilities in the Tennessee Valley validate trends uncovered in survey of top North American municipal and cooperative utilities which was released by Tantalus earlier this year. Findings of that survey showed that 41 percent of respondents named the “need to show value from smart grid investments” as the number one issue to be addressed in 2014. In support of this response, utility executive respondents also indicated that Add-On Applications would be the key investment priority for utilities as attention shifted from basic deployments to the addition of focused niche applications to further leverage investments in AMI and to demonstrate more value to customers.
One such niche application is Closed Loop Voltage Reduction (CLVR™), a real-time demand response application developed by Tantalus. Utilities such as Appalachian Electric Cooperative (AEC) have leveraged this SCADA integrated application to dynamically monitor and manage systemwide voltage thresholds in line with real-time demand. This continuous, push-based messaging allows for unprecedented visibility and near instantaneous control of voltage which has resulted in reported voltage reduction levels of up to 4 percent with no impact in member power quality. Jim Greer, Director of Operations for AEC, presented the utility’s demand management strategy at NRECA’s TechAdvantage conference earlier this year and remarked that the “closed feedback loop,” which is a key element of CLVR, has allowed AEC to proactively shave peak demand with far more precise reduction strategies than previously, when relying on one-way “pinging” alone. Access to this tightly coordinated feedback loop has resulted in the optimization of existing SCADA and voltage reduction programs as well as thousands of dollars in avoided excess demand charges.
“Municipal and cooperative utilities in the Tennessee Valley share a unique set of operational advantages and challenges,” said Tammy Zucco, CMO for Tantalus. “We’ve been grateful for the opportunity to work closely with these utilities in helping them conceptualize and implement their smart grid strategies from the ground up. The result, as we’ve seen, is a more stable and reliable grid, operational savings, and higher quality service for members and customers.”