Tropos Networks and Itron Selected for Avista's Smart Grid Demonstration

  • Posted on: 28 June 2011
  • By: chw staff

Tropos Networks and Itron have announced that Avista has selected their jointly developed Smart Grid solution as part of the $38 million Smart Grid Demonstration Project in the city of Pullman, Washington, and the nearby community  of Albion. The goal of the project is to use smart technologies to automate part of the energy distribution system to increase system reliability and reduce outage time, incorporate renewable energy sources, and provide customers with more tools and information to monitor their energy usage.

To meet the project goals, Avista is deploying an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), smart grid communications, and distribution automation (DA) devices. Installation of Itron OpenWay meters for Avista’s 13,000 electric and 5,000 gas customers that are included as part of the project was completed in May. The meters will provide detailed energy usage data, outage detection and voltage monitoring. Additionally, Itron’s meter data management solution will provide software analytics to optimize distribution system reliability and efficiency in the area.

For smart grid communications, Itron’s OpenWay Integrated Cell Router and OpenWay 7320 wireless broadband router, both of which incorporate Tropos’ wireless broadband technology, will be used. The network will connect smart meters and distribution automation devices, providing a cost-effective, reliable, and high-performance communications foundation that will simplify deployment and operations.

The Tropos-based GridCom wireless broadband network infrastructure has the performance, reliability and security to support these initial smart grid applications and others as they are added in the future. Management for the integrated wireless broadband networks is provided by Itron OpenWay Control, which is based on Tropos Control, and provides visibility, configuration management, performance monitoring, and network fault monitoring.

“Avista is looking forward to implementation of the OpenWay-Tropos smart grid communications solution, which aims to bridge the two network technologies and reduce the number of devices we have to manage and support,” said Jim Corder, Avista’s director of IT infrastructure. “We’re expecting the network will meet or exceed all of our performance requirements for the initial smart grid applications.”

The Project will also extend real-time communications to DA devices providing centralized monitoring and control, enabling Avista to take quick action to avoid or minimize power outages, as well as to determine which DA devices require maintenance or replacement. The DA portion of the Project encompasses 13 distribution feeders and includes 45 reclosers, 20 capacitor banks, and 800 transformers which will utilize the Tropos GridCom wireless broadband network for communications.

“Distribution automation applications require reliable, high-performance wireless communications, which Tropos and Itron provide,” said Heather Cummins, Director for Avista’s Smart Grid Projects. “It made economical sense for us to extend the Tropos wireless broadband network and is expected to simplify management of the network.”

“We are excited to expand our involvement in the Pullman Smart Grid Demonstration Project,” said Philip Mezey, Itron president and COO, Energy. “Our OpenWay solution featuring Tropos technology will provide cost-effective and reliable data backhaul to the utility and support for advanced distribution applications.”

“We are pleased to be working with Avista who is at the forefront in the industry in deploying Smart Grid applications that help improve power delivery and services for their customers,” said Tom Ayers, president and chief executive officer of Tropos. “The combined solutions from Itron and Tropos provide a powerful foundation for the Pullman Smart Grid Demonstration Project and in helping deliver upon Avista’s vision for the Smart Grid.”

The Pullman Smart Grid Demonstration Project is part of the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project, led by Battelle, to expand existing electric infrastructure and demonstrate Smart Grid technologies using matching stimulus monies from the U.S. Department of Energy. Avista is leading the five-year Pullman Smart Grid Demonstration Project, and will contribute $14.9 million with its local partners contributing an additional $4 million.