Aclara advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) solutions can be counted on to meet the myriad operations, customer satisfaction, conservation, and risk mitigation challenges faced by water, gas, and electric utilities worldwide.
The Aclara STAR® Network radio frequency (RF) system and TWACS® power line communications (PLC) technology can combine with Aclara Software’s meter data management (MDM) and customer care applications to offer utilities a comprehensive choice of AMI solutions unmatched in the industry. Aclara technologies are a ubiquitous presence in utility markets, serving small and large rural electric cooperatives, varied water municipals, and large investor-owned electric and gas utilities with diverse solutions configured to meet unique requirements. Fixed network Aclara solutions already handle data from over 15 million meters, making them by far the most successfully implemented AMI technologies in use today. Aclara Software applications add value to these technologies by making it easier for utilities to manage the data collected from meters and other enabled endpoints and by helping customers to understand their water, gas, and electricity usage.
OPERATIONS BENEFIT FROM COMPLETE SOLUTIONS
Aclara provides integrated technologies that fully support the implementation of a “smart grid” system. Its TWACS system allows utilities to use existing power line infrastructure to collect and manage detailed data from electric meters to provide enhanced outage information, and the ability to effectively manage energy operations. What is more, it does not require any additional infrastructure – all TWACS components can be installed within the substation. This means that the costs of implementing TWACS technology are defined and predictable.
The STAR Network system, on the other hand, is a fixed network RF technology that operates completely wirelessly over secure, licensed radio frequencies. The series of data collectors that forms the heart of the STAR Network system can be deployed flexibly over a wide area, providing redundant and reliable meter data collection. The STAR Network can serve single or multi-commodity systems with equal ease. It also is appropriate for gas and water utilities that cannot use power lines for meter data by utilising its solar power and flexible mounting configuration options.
Adding to Aclara’s fixed network strength are Aclara Software’s MDM and analytics solutions for AMI and meter management, revenue management, distribution system analysis, and energy efficiency and demand management. Individual applications within these product categories allow utilities to create billing determinants from base AMI data, provide meter asset management, identify possible theft conditions, highlight potential equipment problems, support load forecasting, and carry out load and capacity settlement functions.
DATA ANALYSIS IMPROVES CUSTOMER SATISFACTION
The Aclara Software Customer Care applications include industry leading solutions that provide consumption and energy management applications directly to end-use consumers. These solutions allow the consumers to truly understand the complexities of their utility usage and costs and identify opportunities for them to reduce consumption and/or demand.
Aclara’s Customer Care applications enable customers to analyse various rate options that are based on their individual consumption patterns. This encourages enrollment in innovative rate programmes by reducing the risk of the unknown. They also improve communications and increase overall customer satisfaction. Customer Care solutions, for example, help utilities retain customer loyalty with innovative energy programmes. The innovative and unique Energy Analysis applications deliver pricing and billing knowledge to consumers via in-home displays or web pages.
Aclara’s fixed network technologies also provide information to allow utilities to provide detailed information about power and resource usage to customers. The Water and Sewer Commission in Boston, Massachusetts implemented Aclara’s STAR® Network in its SmartRead advanced meter reading programme and allows customers to look at their daily usage of water on the internet. This service not only helps customers understand water usage so they can take steps to conserve, but also has reduced the number of customers calls by at least 50%.
MANAGING RISKS WHILE IMPROVING SERVICE
Aclara provides scalable and proven AMI solutions that integrate disparate new systems into a legacy environment and the flexibility for evolving business requirements. Aclara Software can also mitigate the risks associated with significant up-front investment for hardware and software costs by offering utilities a hosted MDM solution.
Utilities can count on Aclara fixed network and MDM technologies to provide comprehensive, cost effective systems that improve service to customers.
SYSTEMS THAT CONSERVE RESOURCES AND POWER
All Aclara technologies contribute to resource conservation efforts by utilities. For example, a partnership with Gutermann International, Zurich, Switzerland, combines powerful Gutermann Zonescan correlated leak detection devices with the STAR Network system, providing a way for utilities to remotely find water leaks underground before they become major problems.
TWACS technology has also been a leader in demand response programmes. Over 29,000 customers of Virginia’s Rappahannock Electric Cooperative participate in the utility’s voluntary 20-year-old demand response programme that uses TWACS load control devices to manage power to electric water heaters. The latest advancement in the TWACS demand response technology is its TWACS DRU (Demand Response Unit), which will use a sophisticated software algorithm to implement custom demand response that minimises customer impact and protects against under voltage and under frequency conditions.