Smart Grid: Utilities take on Tantalus AMI overlay for ERTs


Just weeks after announcing the commercial availability of its jointly developed Itron (NASDAQ: ITRI) ERT (Encoder Receiver Transmitter)-reading platform, Tantalus, a leading provider of smart grid communications and applications, has engaged with more than fifteen public power utilities who are currently utilizing electric, water, and gas ERTs to upgrade from one-way communication to automated, two-way AMI through TUNet – the Tantalus Utility Network. Utilities who have begun to deploy the joint solution have already reported significant performance gains, with some TUNet sites consistently collecting and automatically delivering double the anticipated number of ERT meter readings, essentially transforming existing AMR systems to AMI within weeks. 

“The capability of the TUNet ERT overlay is already showing great potential early in our deployment,” remarked Charles Bauschard, Engineering Manager for Coldwater Board of Public Utilities (CBPU). “In the field, the range of the system is greater than expected and the reliability of reads, especially on hard-to-read water ERTs, is better than expected. With ERTs installed on 100 percent of our system, having a viable option to continue to use these AMR assets without delaying or sacrificing our ability to implement advanced applications like load control on the same TUNet AMI platform that we’re deploying today will be invaluable.”

In addition to the basic network overlay, Tantalus has completed a MultiSpeak integration from TUNet to CBPU’s MeterSense MDMS from Harris Utilities, SmartWorks, which will enable future implementations of real-time applications such as voltage management, system optimization, water conservation projects, and advanced data analytics. The utility’s goal is to utilize this integrated platform to improve customer service by providing tools for energy usage presentment and improved billing data analytics. CBPU also anticipates that the continued migration toward more advanced technology will become an opportunity for the utility to help develop the technical skill set of its workforce while increasing the safety and efficiency of many departments including metering, customer service, and operations.

CBPU, along with numerous other utilities including Garland Power & Light (TX), Cedar Falls Utilities (IA), City of Healdsburg (CA), and the Piedmont Municipal Power Agency (SC) are now implementing this unique low capital cost AMI migration solution, which has been tailored specifically for municipal and cooperative utilities. These utilities that have already begun the migration represent just a portion of the nearly 40 million electric and 20 million gas and water legacy ERT devices already in the field.

“We see a tremendous opportunity in the municipal and cooperative utility markets to deliver an economical technology bridge through the TUNet overlay that serves as a path towards AMI and smart grid adoption,” stated Peter Londa, Tantalus President and CEO. “We have been working closely with our customers in public power for over a decade with the sole focus of developing solutions that fully align with their business priorities. We are pleased to see that the rapid and ongoing adoption of our ERT reading capability is the latest example of how the market is responding to our focused efforts at delivering value to our customers in this important market sector.”

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