The Appalachian Electric Co-operative, located at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and with a combination of urban and rural customers in a service territory that includes mountains and densely vegetated areas and farmland, realised that the most compelling case for AMR came from customers on the outer edges of its rural service territory. AEC investigated a variety of AMR applications before selecting TUNetí¯¿½ from Tantalus Systems Corp.

The wireless Tantalus system was chosen because its long-range capabilities would enable AEC to cover its entire service territory using only two radio towers. The Co-op targeted customers at opposite ends of its service territory, each about 20 miles (35 km) from the operations centre, for the initial TUNet implementation. By pinpointing the critical problems that had to be addressed, like outage reporting, power quality monitoring and expensive cut in/out, the utility was able to make a strong case for strategic advanced metering, without making a total and more expensive commitment to a complete roll-out.

AEC expects the system to pay for itself within six years. Cost savings will occur through reduced meter reading costs and the virtual elimination of the need to re-read meters, improved operational efficiencies and improved collection. AEC identified several cases of power theft immediately after the system was deployed by matching customers experiencing multiple outages to a list of delinquent accounts, using TUNetí¯¿½s outage report feature.

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