T&D World Magazine

Texas Municipal Utility to Replace AMR System with Multi-Tier Architecture

Denton Municipal Electric in Denton, Texas has selected a communication network solution for its smart grid implementation. Following a successful pilot program, DME is moving ahead with a replacement of its existing AMR system with the expectation to replace a total of 45,000 meters over a five-year period.

Denton is located near the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, with a population of more than 100,000 citizens. DME is owned by the residents of Denton.

After reviewing proposals from a number of smart grid technology companies, DME selected Trilliant on the basis of its sophisticated multi-tier architecture and the broadband wireless technology in place as a result of Trilliant’s acquisition of SkyPilot in May 2009.

"In the short term, our smart grid initiative is all about increasing our operational efficiency by reducing truck rolls and improving meter reliability," according to Kyle Tunnell, meter planner and coordinator at DME. "At the same time, we are putting a sophisticated two-way communication infrastructure in place that will allow DME to deploy more advanced smart grid applications over time."

DME will begin the first stage of deployment in November by replacing more than 5,000 aging meters. Within a five-year period, all 45,000 business and consumer meters will be replaced.

"Our pilot program really opened our eyes to what is possible with a Smart Grid infrastructure in place," said Tunnell. "Not only did we experience a 99.99% accuracy rate, we were also able to significantly reduce truck rolls."

DME's coverage area is particularly challenging to the utility owing to the high turnover rate of its users. Denton is home to two universities, a population of users that typically move frequently. High residential turnover would typically require a costly and inefficient truck roll to turn service on or off. DME has significantly reduced the need for truck rolls in the piloted area, and now plans to bring that operational improvement to their entire coverage area.

Examples of the kinds of advanced smart grid applications that are soon to be available to DME include time-of-use rates, improved outage notification, in-home thermostat integration, pre-paid metering, and more.

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