T&D World Magazine

Laclede Electric Moves Forward with Smart Grid System

Laclede Electric Cooperative will deploy an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system as the first step in a broader Smart Grid initiative designed to enhance customer service across its service territory, improve overall electrical network efficiencies, reduce operating costs, and automate the way energy is monitored and managed.

Laclede distributes energy to 35,000 members located in six south-central Missouri counties. The 1,400 square mile service territory embraces a variety of population densities including urban, suburban, commercial & industrial and rural areas that span diverse topologies ranging from thickly forested regions to broad stretches of farmland.

Laclede selected a Tantalus Utility Network – TUNet – because of its flexibility, scalability, and capability to serve as a single communications backbone that supports the full range of Smart Grid functionality. TUNet uses RF (radio frequency) technology that is inexpensively and reliably deployed and operated throughout both urban and rural service areas. With the AMI communications network in place, Laclede can prioritize deployment to specific members and/or geographic areas and evolve step-by-step to a complete implementation. TUNet is expandable to incorporate other communications technologies such as fiber should the needs change over time.

“The range and comprehensive capabilities of the Tantalus system proved to be an excellent fit for our varied member needs, diverse operating environments and desire to automate our distribution network” said Ken Miller, General Manager of Laclede Electric Cooperative. “What’s more, it gives us the foundation to add Smart Grid applications in the future as they become relevant and beneficial to our utility and our members. Tantalus demonstrated the commitment and insight to work with us in applying TUNet for maximum benefit.”

Laclede will begin deployment this fall with full implementation expected within 24 months.

The project calls for full change-out of existing electromechanical meters with solid-state Itron CENTRON meters for residential accounts. CENTRON meters equipped with TUNet modules enable a utility to collect data efficiently and economically via Tantalus’ two-way, real-time communications network. This allows Laclede to accurately monitor consumption, power quality and pinpoint outages by individual meter or in aggregate, either on request or in scheduled intervals. Data delivered via TUNet integrates into backend billing, load forecasting and other applications which can help Laclede improve system performance, forecasting and records management.

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