T&D World Magazine

Avista Selects Tropos Network for Spokane Smart Grid Project

Avista, an investor-owned utility serving over 356,000 electric and 316,000 gas customers across 30,000 square miles in eastern Washington, northern Idaho and Oregon, has selected Tropos’ GridCom for its smart grid distribution area communications network. The network is part of Avista’s Smart Circuits Project planned for the Spokane service area that will reduce energy losses, lower system costs, increase reliability, and enhance the utility’s ability to integrate distributed renewable generation resources. In addition, the Project is targeted to provide energy savings of 42,000 MWh and a reduction in carbon emissions of 14,400 tons annually.

The implementation of Tropos’ GridCom mesh network system will deliver 24x7, real-time communications among substation controllers and grid devices such as reclosers, switches and faulted circuit indicators. Avista will be able to quickly pinpoint faults in its distribution network, significantly improving system reliability. Fault location and isolation in distribution feeder lines has always been problematic and time consuming – often resulting in extended outage times. The GridCom distribution area network will enable distribution automation devices to report the location of faults and gives the utility the ability to dispatch line crews to the site faster.

Avista chose the GridCom wireless distribution area network based on its open standards-based, scalable architecture; its multi-layer security (including FIPS 140-2 and NERC CIP); its unprecedented reliability; and its robust centralized management. GridCom provides Avista with a solid foundation upon which to build additional applications, such as AMI, demand response, distributed generation, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and other smart grid applications in the future.

Avista’s Spokane Smart Circuits Project was chosen by the Department of Energy to receive the largest matching grant in Washington State, totaling $20 million. Avista will contribute $22 million for a total planned project investment of $42 million. The overall project includes the deployment of a distribution management system, intelligent end devices and a communications network along 59 distribution circuits and 14 substations, benefiting more than 110,000 electric customers.

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