T&D World Magazine

Navajo Tribal Utility Authority Deploys EnergyAxis Smart Grid Solution

The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, a non-profit enterprise that supplies water, natural gas, wastewater and solar power services to the Navajo Nation and neighboring communities, will use its U.S. DOE Smart Grid Investment Grant award and NTUA funding to deploy Elster's EnergyAxis advanced metering infrastructure smart grid solution.

NTUA will be Elster's second deployment in the United States to use a single AMI head-end system and smart meters across electric, gas and water services. All SGIG funds are being used by NTUA for the electric AMI deployment.

Through this smart grid project, NTUA will use the Elster EnergyAxis solution to bring improved customer service and reliability and more accurate billing to the 26,000 square-mile Navajo Nation, which spans northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico and southeastern Utah. NTUA serves more than 50,000 electric customers, 34,000 water customers, 13,000 wastewater customers and 7,800 natural gas customers - the majority of whom will be receiving Elster EnergyAxis smart meters as part of this deployment.

Elster's two-way EnergyAxis communication system will enable NTUA to conduct remote data collection and connect/disconnect with substantially reduced personnel field visits and vehicle emissions, and will offer broad improvements to its outage response and management process. With EnergyAxis, NTUA also will gain more accurate and efficient billing, allowing it to eliminate its current billing method.

Elster's EnergyAxis solution offers a multi-technology architecture able to meet the needs of any region's utility services. For NTUA, advanced router radios operating in a private 900-MHz spectrum are being used with hardened routers for gatekeeper communication and data gathering across the extremely rural and widespread service territory. In addition, OSIsoft, LLC has been selected to provide its OSIsoft MDUS product for meter data capture and historical repository storage sent from the EnergyAxis head-end. OSIsoft will also perform meter data integration to SAP for Utilities, extending back-office billing processes and operational efficiencies.

With EnergyAxis in place, NTUA will also be able to perform load research to design new billing services such as flexible due dates and time-of-use dynamic pricing, quickly implement demand response programs, develop load forecasts and help enable energy conservation programs in the future. EnergyAxis also provides the capability to actively participate in load management and load aggregation programs, and to later enact voltage control capabilities.

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