T&D World Magazine

Grand Cayman Utility Building AMI Communications Infrastructure

Caribbean Utilities Co., Ltd. (CUC), the public electric utility which serves Grand Cayman, is building a new utility network infrastructure using the Sensus FlexNet advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) system for residential and commercial electricity customers.

CUC is implementing the wireless licensed spectrum FlexNet AMI system with only two tower base stations to cover all of Grand Cayman, an area of about 76 square miles. CUC is installing Sensus iCon A electric meters for residential applications and iCon APX electric meters for commercial customers with roughly 28,000 endpoints by the project’s completion. In conjunction with the FlexNet AMI installation, CUC has chosen to deploy a pre-pay billing application. Third party vendor Exceleron will partner with Sensus to provide its Prepaid Account Management System (PAMS), a hosted service sharing a common MultiSpeak interface. PAMS will exchange data seamlessly with the FlexNet system and CUC’s customer information system (CIS). A phased deployment has begun and the project is expected to be completed by the end of 2013.

Under a pre-paid plan, customers can buy electricity in any quantity without the need to have a security deposit on account. CUC’s pre-paid customers will receive notification of a low balance (in dollars) through email, text or automated voice messages as reminder for them to top up their balance. They will have the opportunity to track usage and make payments through a dedicated web portal as well as pay by phone, CUC kiosk or office. Based on consumer feedback, and experience in other Caribbean jurisdictions, CUC believes that the pre-paid form of electricity purchase will be popular and they plan on making it available to as many customers as possible.

Installation of the full AMI system in the Caribbean island territory is expected to be straightforward. As FCC licensed spectrum does not apply in the region, Sensus helped CUC secure and integrate licensed 900 MHz frequencies from the Information Communication Technology Authority (ICTA) which governs spectrum for the Cayman Islands. The FlexNet system will be able to accommodate future applications for distribution automation and demand response.

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