CenterPoint Energy, Inc.’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). The AMS is designed to give Houston-area electric consumers the ability to better monitor and manage electric use and cost in near real-time—a first step toward developing and deploying a full smart grid.
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 more than 2.4 million consumers within a 5,000 square mile service area around metropolitan Houston.
|The MDS Mercury in its pole mounting. Click to enlarge.|
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 MDS Mercury is a highly secure, industrial-grade WiMAX platform. Operating at 3.65 GHz, the Mercury 3650 can be optimized for throughput (up to 9 Mbps aggregate) or for range (up to 14 miles). The MDS Mercury is certified to operate in extreme temperature ranges, from -40 °C to +70 °C.
Once the AMS, including the communications infrastructure, is installed, retail electric providers (REPs) 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.