T&D World Magazine

Hometown Connections, DCSI Deliver AMR Over Power Lines

Hometown Connections and Distribution Control Systems Inc. have announced a strategic partnership that will help members of the American Public Power Association (APPA) gather and transmit consumption data over electric power lines. APPA members will be able to purchase equipment, software and services from DCSI, taking advantage of national group benefits arranged by Hometown Connections.

Hometown Connections is the utility services subsidiary of APPA. DCSI’s TWACS (Two-Way Automatic Communication System) technology is a power line communication system for utilities deploying automatic information technologies, with over 8 million two-way devices installed or under contract.

TWACS system capabilities include load management, demand response, interval data, TOU/critical peak pricing, line-voltage monitoring, outage assessment and restoration monitoring, remote service connect/disconnect, and tamper theft detection using open architecture interfaces. The TWACS communication technology includes short-hop radio frequency (RF) metering solutions for water and gas meters, offering a solution for the many public power utilities providing multiple services. TWACS communication technology uses the existing power lines for data transmission, and since the waveform is modulated near the zero crossing point, it uses the utility’s network at the frequency for which it was designed. No repeaters, amplifiers, blocking devices or other dispersed, exposed apparatus is required to permit high performance two-way communications on the power lines in the presence of capacitor banks, regulators, step-down transformers, overhead, underground, most networks and other distribution system topologies.

Tim Blodgett, president & CEO of Hometown Connections, said, “APPA members are eager to improve operational efficiency and offer strong customer support programs by automating the management of electric, water and gas meters. By partnering with DCSI to offer the TWACS solution, Hometown Connections will help APPA members deploy this state-of-the-art technology with national group benefits available to every public power community in the U.S. The TWACS system delivers the kind of next-generation metering solution our customers have been requesting.”

Martin Kaiser, president of DCSI, added, “The Hometown Connections team provides an outstanding vehicle for quickly raising awareness of the many benefits of deploying DCSI’s TWACS solutions, which extend far beyond meter reading. We appreciate the trust they have placed in DCSI as their preferred solution for public power utilities, and we will ensure that DCSI’s focus remains on delivering best-in-class value and customer satisfaction to our public power, and all, utility customers. DCSI has already enjoyed early successes in the public power sector, including Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, one of the two largest public power utilities in the U.S., and we value our relationships with these customers. We expect that this Hometown Connections relationship will significantly accelerate adoption of our solutions.”

The TWACS system uses a three-layered hierarchical architecture consisting of the TWACS Master Station software, the Substation Communications Equipment and the Remote Communications Equipment. The central computer controls system operations, stores data, and interfaces to other utility data systems. It communicates to the substation equipment over a variety of voice-grade communication links, such as leased or dial-up telephone, microwave radio, satellite or additional IP-addressable media.

Utilities are choosing TWACS technology for large-scale deployment because of the inherent predictability and favorable economics the system offers. Interval data collected by the TWACS system supports customer inquiries, and can be used for dynamic load profiling and/or interval billing to support Time-Of-Use, Critical Peak Pricing and other “Smart Metering” rate structures, as envisioned in the recently enacted federal energy policy. Since the TWACS system is a true two-way communications system, call center personnel can accurately respond to billing inquiries and acquire requested reads in less than 20 seconds while a customer remains on the phone. When outages occur, TWACS technology helps reduce costly service field trips by pinging meters to determine the extent and exact location of an outage and to verify service restoration. The system is compatible with most residential and commercial meters including single-phase mechanical meters (ANSI Forms 1, 2, 2ES, 2K, 3 and 4) produced by all major manufacturers, several solid-state electric meters in their native protocols, nearly all water/gas dial encoders, and pulse generators/initiators.

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