Ruston, Louisiana is home to just under 21,000 residents, served by 10,596 electric meters. It was one of the 99 utilities selected to receive matching funds from the U.S. Smart Grid Investment Grant program. It received $4.3 million in October 2009 towards its $8.6 million smart grid program, which encompassed these areas:
Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI)
Meter data management system (MDMS)
At the beginning of the project, Ruston was seeing its system reliability decline because of aging and antiquated equipment. A utility-wide technology assessment performed by UtiliWorks determined that an AMI system would have great value, particularly if it combined several applications. And if it was accompanied by substation upgrades.
AMI as the foundation
The AMI system is the projects foundation. It provides hourly reads via an RF mesh network provided by Cooper Power Systems.
The Harris MeterSense MDMS provides real-time usage in hourly increments. It also enables valuable analytics such as hourly usage, demand curves, tamper indicators and outage indicators. Ruston reports that "the centralised and interconnected nature of MDM solutions give utility departments access to the most relevant data in a ready-for-use format to fulfill the department's mission: accurate billing data for the billing department, real-time usage data for customer service representatives and timely outage information for grid operators.
Ruston's prepay project included payment kiosks that tie into the utility billing system, along with meters that can handle remote disconnect and reconnect. Benefits of included improved cash flow management for customers along with lower collections and bad debt costs for the util on the line in my all I need to call in and you are you ity.
Ruston followed up with the distribution automation project which included automated switches, transformers, re-closers, and capacitor banks with SCADA control. It also implemented loss reporting tools to pinpoint where losses are occurring and where operational corrections can increase efficiency while recovering revenue.
The project also encompassed pilots and small projects around plug-in electric vehicles and building energy management. The utility determine that home energy management was not viable since the benefits would not outweigh the costs.
Ruston has already seen results including:
Reduced theft losses
Reduced operations and maintenance costs
Improved reliability and power quality
Reduced truck rolls and greenhouse emissions
Better control of energy costs by customers
Source: Smart Grid News
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