Rural utilities get millions in smart grid funding
Companies mentioned: USDA Rural Development's Rural Utilities Service, Elster, IEEE, Itron, Landis+Gyr, NICT, Silver Spring Networks, Friedrich Kuehl, G3-PLC Alliance, MRSK, RFMD and Silicon Labs
Weekly Intelligence Brief 2-9 April 2012
Rural utilities get millions in smart grid funding
US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is backing a generous funding programme that will benefit rural electric cooperative utilities in 10 states. The cooperatives will receive loans to install smart grid technologies and make improvements to generation and transmission facilities.
Examples of funding include a $102.8m guaranteed loan to the Jackson Electric Membership Corporation in Jefferson, Georgia, to build and improve over 850 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan also includes $7.2m in smart grid projects.
"A 21st century electric grid is essential to America's ability to create jobs in the clean energy economy of the future." Vilsack said. "These investments enable consumers and businesses to better manage their use of electricity and help maintain affordable rates. Building transmission infrastructure that employs smart grid technologies will make it easier to add renewable sources of electricity into the grid and also improve reliability."
With this funding, USDA Rural Development moves closer to reaching Secretary Vilsack's goal to fund more than $250 million for Smart Grid technologies.
The $334m in loans are being provided by USDA Rural Development's Rural Utilities Service (RUS).
For a list of utilities awarded funding link here: http://usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentidonly=true&contentid=2012/05/0142.xml
New Elster meter meets IEEE standard
Metering company Elster has launched its REXUniversal meter. The meter maker claims that it is the world's first integrated universal meter and radio platform that also complies with the recently published 4g amendment to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.15 standard.
Elster is the first in the industry to provide an interoperable 802.15.4g-based meter and communications platform, eliminating the need for proprietary communication option boards, the company said.
Elster's REXUniversal meter platform allows EnergyAxis® and other Smart Grid vendors' 900 MHz Itron, Landis+Gyr, NICT, and Silver Spring Networks radio frequency (RF) mesh communications to run natively on the identical REXUniversal meter hardware with integrated communications, economically delivering meter and network flexibility to utilities.
Key industry players Elster, were active participants in shaping the standard, striving to ensure backward compatibility with existing deployed devices, and ensuring that features necessary for long-term operation were represented.
Friedrich air conditioner ‘smart grid’ capabale
Friedrich Kuehl’s recently launched air conditioner is the first on the market that consumers can control with their smartphone, tablet PC, or home computer.
The manufacturer states the smart appliance will enable people to dramatically cut their cooling costs this coming summer and also notes it comes with built-in energy management schedules and is Smart Grid capable.
Jane Deming, Marketing Manager for Friedrich, says, “The Kuehl room air conditioner means total freedom for the person on the go. No more worrying about last minute schedule changes, wasted cooling or heating. Kuehl has the ability to link into a building management system.
This gives facility managers the ability to control energy consumption on a large scale even when dealing with individual room cooling units. This is the first time any room air conditioner system has had this capability.”
Vermont meter opt-out fees banned
Customers wishing to opt-out of Vermont’s smart meter programme will not be charged for not participating. The legislation that has been passed says customers can ask also for the removal of a previously installed wireless smart meter for any reason without incurring a charge for the removal.
The legislation was written and proposed by Bennington County Senator, Robert Hartwell.
According to a report by the Bennington Banner, the new law also requires utilities to provide prior written notice to customers indicating that the smart meter will use radio or other wireless means for two-way communication between the meter and the company, and informing customers of their rights under the new law.
The Department of Public Service must report to the Legislature by Jan. 1, 2014, on the cost-savings associated with smart meters, and whether any security breaches occurred because of the wireless technology.
The new law is also calling out that the commissioners of the Departments of Health and Public Service must submit an updated report by Jan. 15, 2013, on the health effects of smart meters.
G3-PLC Alliance announces new members
Following ITU standardization, utilities, equipment manufacturers, test labs and semiconductor makers join the G3-PLC Alliance, whose goal is to promote the G3-PLC communications standard.
New members include MRSK, the Russian electricity distribution, construction and research company, and Atos Worldgrid, an energy systems integrator. Also joining are three equipment manufacturers, Elster offering measurement-and-control and systems integration, Iskreameco delivering energy measurement systems, and devolo AG providing communications solutions to the Smart Grid
Four semiconductor companies, Accent Semiconductor, Enverve, Freescale, NXP and Renesas join LAN testing laboratory to round out the new members.
The ITU recently approved the G3-PLC protocol as a new low-frequency, OFDM-based narrowband powerline communications (NB-PLC) standard.
The G3-PLC is the first NB-PLC standard that supports the IPv6 internet protocol to allow new internet-based energy management systems for use by utilities and grid operators to better manage their assets on the grid.
According to the alliance, utility companies can now plan their deployments utilizing G3-PLC technology to “achieve cost-effective smart grid systems that will meet customers’ needs today and in the future.”
RFMD and Silicon Labs to deliver smart grid apps
North Carolina’s RF Micro Devices has joined forces with Texas firm Silicon Laboratories, an analog-intensive, mixed-signal ICs specialist company, to deliver sub-gigahertz solutions for a broad range of smart grid applications.
RFMD’s RF6569 smart energy front-end module (FEM) and Silicon Labs’ EZRadioPRO Si4464/63 transceivers have been combined to create the RF6569/Si4464/63 reference design (part number 4463-TCE30E915R-EK).
The new high-performance sub-GHz solution will be marketed to public utilities and consumers in an effort for them to have more control over how they monitor and save energy, targeting portable battery-powered equipment such as AMI, security and home automation systems, industrial control systems, and sensor networks in the 902-928MHz and 868MHz ISM (industrial, scientific & medical) bands.