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February 04, 2010

Lee County Electric Cooperative Selects EnergyPrism



One of the largest electric cooperatives in the nation, Lee County Electric Cooperative, has selected the ENERGYprism Customer Care and Energy Vision Operational Efficiency prodcuts from Aclara, a vendor of Intelligent Infrastructure and part of the Utility Solutions Group of ESCO Technologies. 
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Officials of Aclara say their customer portal and meter-data-management system will help LCEC “transform its advanced metering infrastructure into a foundation for smart-grid development.” These additions to the utility's information systems will allow Lee County Electric “to turn consumption data into powerful knowledge for utility workers and customers alike,” they said.

Based in North Fort Myers, Florida, LCEC has been collecting daily consumption data from its 210,000 customers since 2002 via the Aclara Two-Way Automatic Communications System technology, a fixed-network AMI that transmits meter readings over power lines. 

With the addition of the Aclara Software MDMS, “the utility gains the ability to validate, store and integrate data from many utility systems, giving utility managers better decision-making power,” LCEC officials said.

In November TMC's (News - Alert) Calvin Azuri reported that Mark Thompson, vice president of strategic communication networks at Aclara, was elected by the member companies of the Wi-Fi Alliance (News - Alert) to chair the Smart Grid task group: “The Aclara brand represents utility networking and advanced metering infrastructure technologies.”

The Aclara applications also give each utility customer online information on household energy use, as well as tools to understand bills, “compare usage to similar households, pinpoint where energy dollars go based on a home profile, and learn ways to make smarter energy choices,” according to company officials. 

In addition, Aclara's “Bill-To-Date” feature lets customers see how much their electric bill is at any point in the billing cycle, determine what the final bill may be at the end of the billing period, and set a customizable threshold that triggers an alert from the utility.  

“We're opening up an all-new dialogue with customers,” said Dennie Hamilton, senior  vice president and CEO for LCEC, “by giving customers the power to have us call, text or e-mail with alerts before a high bill arrives.”

Hamilton also notes that the MDMS positions the utility to support emerging technologies. “It won't be long before people come home from work, plug in their cars and expect vehicles to be charged for a morning commute,” he says. “With the MDMS, we'll be able to implement an hourly meter-reading schedule, and we'll have two-way communications into each household. That means we'll be ready to balance charging load as more and more plug-in vehicles hit the road.”

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Kelly McGuire
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