Echelon Corp. has reached a significant milestone in a key targeted growth region, China. Echelon's power line communications (PLC) technology and Control Operating System (COS) powered data concentrator module have been granted China State Grid approval through its joint venture, Zhejiang Echelon Holley Technology Co., Ltd. The joint venture has also received from Holley Metering Limited its first order for meter modules that incorporate Echelon's PLC technology for use in a 30,000 smart meter pilot deployment in Inner Mongolia and been selected for a pilot in Fuping county, located in the Shanxi province. These two projects represent significant opportunities for the partnership; Inner Mongolia is expected to add 10 million new smart meters over the next five years and the Shanxi province is targeting 10 million new smart meters over the next three years.
The Inner Mongolia project started three years ago with other PLC technologies but, based upon the reputation of Echelon's PLC technology, Inner Mongolia has selected Echelon for this 30,000 unit deployment now that the Echelon Holley joint venture's meter module that incorporates Echelon's PLC technology has received State Grid certification. When the deployment is completed in January 2013, the utility has plans to expand to a larger scale.
The Fuping pilot is being managed by the local utility, part of the Shanxi provincial utility. The 1,000 meter pilot using Echelon PLC technology has delivered nearly a 100% read rate. Many more meters using the Echelon Holley joint venture communications modules will be installed over the next few months to expand this pilot. If the Fuping pilot performs well, it could expand to other cities or counties in the Shanxi province that are services by the Shanxi utility.
In addition to the Inner Mongolia and Fuping projects, the Echelon Holley joint venture has also sold its communications modules that incorporate Echelon technology for use in 11,000 smart meters in smaller pilot projects at 10 sites in five provinces.
State-owned China State Grid Corp., the world's largest grid operator and power distributor, has outlined and is aggressively delivering on its five-year plan to upgrade China's electricity grid. State Grid promises reliability of no less than 99.9% and on-site response within 45 minutes to repair service in urban areas. To reach these goals, they created a rigorous suite of tests that vendors must pass in order to participate in the future State Grid project to upgrade its 120 million meter market over the next three years.