Tantalus rural electric cooperative AMI
People's Energy Cooperative is one of many US rural electric utilities that are adopting AMI systems in a bid to boost communications technology 

In the US, electric utility People’s Energy Cooperative last week selected smart communications provider Tantalus Systems to deploy an IP-based network for an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) system in Minnesota.

The deal comes as People’s Energy Cooperative aims to upgrade its ageing power line carrier system to implement operationally efficient applications and provide beneficial energy management tools to its 23,000 members.

Tantalus said in a statement it will deploy its new wireless RF AMI network, TUNEt, to control signal range and frequency agility to support the AMI functionality including remote meter disconnects, pro-active outage notification and prepay metering.

Commenting on the development, Elaine Garry, CEO of People’s Energy, said: “As a cooperative utility, we hold earnestly to our commitments to adopt innovative energy solutions that enable us to provide reliable and reasonably priced energy services.”

Tantalus claims TUNEt will run parallel processes and simultaneous advanced applications such as load management, CLVR (closed loop voltage reduction) and distribution automation.

The signing of the contract follows People’s Energy recent expansion of membership by 50% and Tantalus’ addition of a flexibility design in TUNEt to permit utilities' migration to AMI over a scheduled period of time.

The design allows TUNet to be deployed as an overlay system for utilities with existing AMR assets, such as PLC or ERT (encoder receiver transmitter) technology that have yet to be fully depreciated.

Tantalus' AMI solutions in the US

In other news involving Tantalus solutions, Michigan state utility Coldwater in the first quarter of 2015 adopted new water and electrical meter reading systems in a bid to redeploy meter reading employees to other functions within the utility.

The Coldwater Board of Public Utilities installed 50 water and 300 electric smart meters, which when using Tantalus Utility Network will be able to read nearby legacy AMR meters by picking up data from the encoder receiver transmitter and sending it back to a central database, reported local newspaper The Daily Reporter.

A representative of the utility said the smart meters use a private, closed, 800 megahertz radio system to report to collector nodes, which transmit the data by CBPU fiber of telcom systems to a central computer.

The city utility developed the system with Tantalus to avoid the cost of replacing AMR meters. These units will only be substituted with smart meters when they fail, said the spokesman.

Commenting on the effectiveness of the new system, the spokesman said: “In the field, the range of the system is greater than expected and the reliability of reads, especially on hard-to-read water ERTs, is better than expected.