EU’s powerline project started

The EU-sponsored powerline project OPERA – Open PLC European Research Alliance – part of the larger broadband project Broadband for All, started work early this year. With OPERA the European Commission is emphasising the importance of powerline for the European broadband market. OPERA is being sponsored within the framework of the initiative eEurope and the Information Society Technologies (IST) project.

AMR system for the Bahamas

The Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) has signed a contract with Itron Inc. for the deployment of 100,000 Itron electric AMR devices and a mobile collector system. The utility expects improved billing efficiencies of more than 50% and additional revenues as high as $15 million once the technology is fully deployed.

BEC will be the first utility in the Caribbean Basin to fully deploy AMR technology across its service territory. The investment will allow it to provide more accurate, faster, regular and reliable readings, and the additional revenues expected will be used for future investments as the technology advances.

Worldwide roll-out of automated meter management system

Enel’s system integrates metering, billing and contract management, which improves customer service and enhances utility efficiency. The utility has already installed 15 million of a projected total of 30 million meters, and over 12 million are already being remotely managed and remotely read.

The alliance combines IBM’s global delivery capability, systems integration skills and business transformation services with Enel’s expertise in electricity distribution. The two companies estimate that the potential global market for AMM solutions is worth more than €120 billion.

AMR PLC contract signed

Bangor Hydro-Electric Company (BHE) a member of the New England Power Pool, has signed a contract with Distribution Control Systems, Inc. for full system deployment of an AMR system using DCSI's Two-Way Automatic Communication System (TWACS®). The contract calls for installation of the patented TWACS system and 110,000 advanced meters. Deployment objectives include collection of daily energy usage data from BHE’s residential, commercial and industrial customers. Other expected benefits include improvements to outage management, and BHE will be able to access data indicating how well the distribution system is performing.

Hooking up to the national grid

The Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has published new standards for hooking up DG to the national grid. These standards are expected to transform the electric power industry.

The standards were written in an attempt to use good science to set rules for hooking up to the grid, while undermining the standards developed by some utilities to prevent com-petition. Richard DeBlasio, chairman of the working group that developed the standards, believes that the ability to access power from customer-sited generation facilities is essential to modernising the electric power system. The new standards add flexibility and security to the system, because DG can lower the overall cost of power, make generation more efficient, cut grid congestion and improve reliability.

IEEE is working on testing the standards, distributing technological data and writing guidelines for monitoring data from DG facilities.

IEA DSM programme approves demand response project

The International Energy Agency (IEA) Demand Side Management Programme has appointed Ross Malme, President and CEO of Retx, as the operating agent for a multinational demand response project called Demand Response Resources (DRR). The project, which will be led by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), has been approved by the IEA Programme Executive Committee and is expected to involve at least 12 programme member countries, including the U.S., UK, France, Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Spain, Australia, Japan and Korea.

Innovative latching relays from GRUNER

Latching relays are key components in energy management applications such as tariff switching, load shedding and prepayment. GRUNER has shipped more than 30 million latching relays, and many manufacturers of energy management equipment choose GRUNER relays.

Prepayment applications call for stringent performance requirements on the part of latching relays. Overload conditions, tamper resistance, contact resistance and endurance in harsh environments are the main factors.

Mobile communications system for emergency response engineers

Telepartner Systems has completed a new mobile communications system for emergency response engineers working for Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE). Engineers can receive, accept, report progress and close out jobs in real time, using one mobile device communicating over the Vodafone network. The system builds on existing investment, using the same server environment implemented by Telepartner in 2001 for meter servicing operations.

Patent sought for free water dispenser

A call for tenders at a South African municipality led to the invention of a water control dispenser. The municipality stated it would supply a galvanized steel cover to which a water control dispensing mechanism was to be mounted. Operation would be by turning an external hand-wheel, which in turn had to be protected by a metal surround.

The invention involved the principle of operating an electrical water solenoid by an external magnet, followed by the development of an oil-filled viscous-drive with a return bias to align the polarity of the magnetic field to open and close the valve. A prototype was presented to the municipality, and after it and several other systems had been trialled, an order was placed for ten units to be field tested over a three-month period. The trials were successful, and a joint venture business trading as WaterWidget has resulted in the WaterWidget free water dispenser being made available countrywide. A provisional patent has been registered in South Africa and worldwide patent protection has been registered.

AMR pilot for water and gas meters

Batesville Water & Gas, a municipality utility provider in Indiana, USA, has installed the SpeedRead AMR system in 100 of its residential and commercial customers’ premises. SpeedRead transmitters are able to monitor both water and gas meters simultaneously, and provide individual data streams for each. Seventy percent of the meters being tested are gas meters and located above-ground, but many of the water meters in the test are pit-set; buried in a plastic pit through which the customer’s service line passes. 

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