Elster Electricity, LLC, a leading provider of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) solutions worldwide, was selected by The Wireless Innovation Network of British Columbia (WINBC) to receive the “Taking Care of Business – Public Sector” award in the third annual Wireless Innovation Contest (WIC’06). The award recognizes solutions that showcase new processes or models, improve productivity, and save money in the public service sector (utilities, health, government, fire, or police services). Elster will be recognized by WINBC at the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) Wireless 2006 Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada as an innovator in wireless solutions for the successful deployment of Elster’s EnergyAxis System by the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, Inc. (AVEC).

“Elster Electricity is pleased with the recognition of this award,” stated Sharon Allan, chief knowledge officer at Elster. “Our electric and water utility customers are deploying wireless technology to not only improve operational efficiencies but to also improve customer service.”

Elster was selected for the award based on the benefits realized by AVEC since deploying the EnergyAxis System in 2005. AVEC is a utility that encompasses the largest geographic area of any utility in North America. Of its 52 member villages, only one is accessible by road. All other villages are only accessible by airplane or boat during certain times of the year. In the winter, much of AVEC’s territory can be covered with up to 10 feet of snow. This makes meter reading difficult and potentially hazardous because employees must dig tunnels in the snow to read the meters, otherwise they forgo reading meters in the winter months.

Meera Kohler, president and CEO of AVEC, said, “There are many options out there, but this is the first solution that actually worked for us due to the nature of our challenges.”

With the EnergyAxis System, AVEC can now read meters in five remote villages from its headquarters in Anchorage, Alaska. Even though the communications environment exists in a hostile winter climate where temperatures can drop to 50 degrees below zero and winds can rise to 40 mph, 100 percent of the electricity meters within the mesh network are being read. Three to four percent of the meters were buried in snow this past winter. In villages where the system is deployed, AVEC has eliminated meter reading errors, missed meter reads, and estimated meter reads. AVEC has also improved operations by utilizing information from the EnergyAxis System to detect power outages and diagnose problems with individual distribution systems before dispatching a service crew to a remote service area hundreds of miles away.

“WIC’06 focuses on accelerating wireless adoption and new economic opportunities,” says Sang Mah, president of WINBC. “The winning companies, organizations, and innovators showcase how leading-edge wireless solutions are, and will be, helping to improve efficiencies, enhance processes, and connect people.”