T&D World Magazine

Manitoba Hydro to Deploy Advanced Metering Technology

Manitoba Hydro, energy provider to more than 500,000 electric and 250,000 gas customers in the province, will be the first utility in North America to deploy OpenWay, an advanced metering and communication technology being developed by Itron.

Manitoba Hydro’s project usng OpenWay technology will begin in September and includes 5000 new OpenWay Centron electricity meters that will be installed in selected areas of the Winnipeg metropolitan area and will expand to include 1000 natural gas meters in early 2007. The project also includes Itron Enterprise Edition meter data management software and related applications. Manitoba Hydro will assess the performance of the OpenWay network architecture as well as validate the business case for advanced metering and a possible deployment of the technology on a broader scale in the future.

“It has become clear to us that advanced metering technology and related software will be an important asset in enabling Manitoba Hydro to achieve key objectives set forth in our corporate strategic plan, particularly in the areas of conservation and stewardship, delivering customer value, financial performance and employee safety,” said Bob Brennan, Manitoba Hydro’s president and CEO. “We believe that Itron’s vision for advanced metering is well aligned with our own and we’re very pleased to partner with Itron on this groundbreaking project.”

OpenWay, together with Itron software, will enable Manitoba Hydro to deliver greater customer value through improved system reliability, enhanced energy conservation and the ability to offer a broad range of new services. Services include flexible rate plans, time of use rates, customer “in-home” energy use display, load control and management services, remote electrical service disconnects and reconnects and faster response times for power outages and restorations.

“While today’s network AMR solutions provide utilities with numerous advanced metering applications and benefits, some of our utility customers have told us that their advanced metering requirements cannot be met effectively by current offerings in the marketplace,” said Malcolm Unsworth, senior vice president of Itron’s Hardware Solutions group. “OpenWay is being designed and developed to address a broader spectrum of technology requirements and business objectives for advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and demand response outlined in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Ontario Energy Conservation Leadership Act of 2005, and initiatives in California, Texas and several other states.”

OpenWay by Itron combines two-way communications to each meter with an open-protocol, standards-based architecture, enabling utilities to select communications technologies best suited to their needs based on cost, availability, and other considerations. Manitoba Hydro has chosen to use Itron’s OpenWay radio frequency (RF) local area network architecture to communicate with its meters. In addition to RF, options include power line carrier (PLC), broadband over powerline (BPL), as well as many other public, private, wired and wireless IP-based communication networks operating as standalone or in combination.

OpenWay by Itron will provide a number of capabilities designed to meet the most rigorous of AMI business cases including: two-way communications to each meter; scalability to greater than 10 million meters; multiple-channel interval data collection; on-demand reads; demand reset; a remote load-limiting disconnect/reconnect switch; critical peak pricing and time-of-use rate updates (available on the display); mass market demand response capability; net metering for dynamic pricing environments; advanced outage detection and restoration notification; tamper and theft detection; remote device configuration and firmware updates; and local connectivity to gas and water meters, as well as in-home devices via a Zigbee radio chip that comes standard in all OpenWay Centron electricity meters.

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