T&D World Magazine

Tollgrade Launches Distribution Grid Monitoring Product Line

Tollgrade Communications, Inc. has launched a new centralized remote monitoring system, called LightHouse, as an innovative means for electric power utilities to deploy technology to provide real-time grid intelligence, immediately detect faults, help to minimize the impact of outages and optimize utilization of assets, with a goal to improve overall efficiency of energy delivery.

A LightHouse sensor, mounted directly on the electrical conductor, will continuously monitor key circuit parameters and transmit data over a wireless network to a central location, reducing time of detecting a problem on the grid, identifying its location and restoring service.

"Today, utilities face unprecedented challenges from regulators and customers to improve reliability and quality, and to increase efficiency," said Joseph Ferrara, Tollgrade's president and CEO. "Our core competency and expertise in centralized test and measurement is a real solution for new markets, such as the power distribution industry, to better drive operational efficiency and improve customer satisfaction," added Ferrara.

"For many years, the distribution grid relied on visual observation from field crews or calls from customers to alert the power company to a problem," said Steven Day, Tollgrade's executive director of marketing.

"We recognized a compelling need for robust and flexible sensor technology in a marketplace that requires continuous performance and in an industry that is seeking ways to optimize the performance of distribution grids," added Day.

"Advanced sensors are an essential element for the intelligent grid. Sensor technology provides utilities with a snapshot of the grid's current status for fault and equipment problem location and historical data to enable better economic decisions about asset operations and maintenance, plus more accurate load research and forecasting," said H. Christine Richards, senior research analyst of Intelligent Grid Strategies at Energy Insights (an IDC Company).

The new LightHouse product line is a system of components that includes a wireless sensor, an aggregator device that collects data, and software that will enable viewing, maintenance and reporting functions in real-time. Several LightHouse pilot deployments are already underway or planned for 2008. The product line has been in development for more than a year and is now available as a beta product for utility evaluation pilot programs. The product is expected to be commercially available during the second half of 2008.

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