Challenge :: Rural Community Looks to the Future
Pulaski is a growing rural community with an aggressive economic development focus. Situated midway between Nashville, TN and Huntsville, AL, it attracts residents seeking a small town way of life combined with modern conveniences. As Tennessee's oldest municipal electric system – and the first in the state to receive power from Tennessee Valley Authority – Pulaski Electric System (PES) has earned a reputation for providing customers with top tier service through the use of new technologies. In 2008, a utility owned and operated FTTH (Fiber to the Home) network was implemented. The goal of PES was to get double duty from this high-speed network by also using it as the backbone for Smart Grid applications.
Solution :: Clearing the Path to the Smart Grid
The Tantalus Utility Network (TUNet®) gives Pulaski the option to use either its existing FTTH network or 220 MHz RF for rapid and reliable two-way data transport. This allows PES to drive additional value from its FTTH system as well as extend Smart Grid functionality to outlying areas of the community via the wireless TUNet wide area network. TUNet is an end-to-end WAN / LAN / HAN data communications system that operates with both RF and IP-based networks including FTTH, Fiber, WiFi, WiMAX and GPRS/cellular. WAN options can be used individually or combined to meet a utility’s economic, coverage and redundancy needs. It enables a utility to precisely monitor consumption and power quality, automatically pinpoint outages and energy losses, and remotely manage meters and other apparatus, even in challenging urban, rural and industrial environments. TUNet provides the data needed for timely billing, optimal system performance and conservation initiatives including load shedding and customer signaling of current energy cost or consumption history so people can make informed decisions on when they purchase energy.
Results :: Plugged in for Progress
A fiber optic network cleared the path for utility modernization by allowing PES to use a single network for triple-play media services (Internet, TV and phone) and Smart Grid applications including automated meter reading, instant outage detection and continual power quality monitoring. It will also enable PES to launch Demand Response programs that require two-way communications between the utility and energy consumers.
In the city of Pulaski, where all the fiber is deployed, a Tantalus data collector that plugs into the meter socket is connected to the FTTH network and serves as the WAN gateway Only the collector needs to be physically connected to the FTTH. TUNet smart meter endpoints communicate via 900 MHz and form a self-configuring, self-healing local area network. Data from a cluster of LAN endpoints is funneled through this central WAN collector and relayed to the utility’s operations center. Data delivered via TUNet can be integrated into backend applications including billing, forecasting and customer service.
The wireless RF network provides rural reach and redundancy for the FTTH network, which helps ensure a high level of system reliability.
By leveraging its FTTH network for AMI communications rather than using a separate network, PES expects to achieve a variety of benefits. A common infrastructure offers immediate cost advantages as well as on-going network maintenance efficiencies. It also has the freedom to evolve according to its own business goals, operational priorities and desire to improve the customer service experience.
PES forecasts power savings as a result of its ability to detect and correct chronic system losses from theft and malfunctioning equipment, faster outage restoration, and especially by automating data collection along hard-to-read rural meter routes.