Houston area utility to deploy wireless network for smart metering

CenterPoint Energy awards GE Digital Energy the contract to provide wireless network infrastructure to reach 2.4 million consumers. See photo.
By Control Engineering Staff May 4, 2009

If you’re concerned about the logistics of designing a wireless network for your process operation, imagine trying to deploy and manage a network with more than 2 million I/O points.

CenterPoint Energy’s electric transmission and distribution subsidiary has selected GE Digital Energy as its provider of wireless communications to support the electric utility’s advanced metering system (AMS). AMS is designed to give Houston-area electric consumers improved ability to monitor and manage electric use and cost in near real time.

GE Digital Energy MDS Mercury 3650 radio
Learn more about GE Digital Energy’s MDS Mercury 3650 radios .

GE Digital Energy’s MDS Mercury 3650 radios—along with engineering services, network design, project management, and support services—will support the transmission of electric utility meter data over the AMS network from consumers’ homes and businesses to CenterPoint Energy’s data center.

“The advanced metering system is our first step in developing a smart grid composed of technology, automation, and electrical infrastructure integration,” says Kenny Mercado, senior vice president of advanced metering deployment, CenterPoint Energy.

In March 2009, CenterPoint Energy began replacing existing electric meters with smart meters. More than 145,000 smart meters will be installed across the Houston area by the end of 2009. The AMS will be deployed during the next five years to over 2.4 million consumers within a 5,000 square mile service area around metropolitan Houston.

GE Digital Energy MDS Mercury 3650 radio
Once the AMS, including the communications infrastructure, is installed, retail electric providers will be able to offer new products and services to their consumers, such as giving consumers the ability to monitor their energy usage and energy prices in real time from computer screens in their homes. Consumers could know how much electricity their appliances are using, as well as what electricity rates they are paying at any given time. Additionally, consumers could be able to remotely control their appliances via the Internet. For example, consumers on vacation would now be able to turn on their lights at night or adjust the air conditioner while they are away.

—Edited by Peter Welander, process industries editor, PWelander@cfemedia.com
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