The Texas-New Mexico Power Company (TNMP) recently filed a plan with Texas Public Service Commission for a $123 million SmartGrid project. The five year plan will place SmartSynch SmartMeters at 231,000 residences and businesses throughout TNMP’s service territory.
According to SmartSynch, the manufacturer of the smart meter, the TNMP project is the largest mass residential deployment of SmartGrid project using a ‘public wireless network’ as the communications backbone. In this case, AT&T is the public wireless network. The project represents a step forward for ‘public’ wireless broadband carriers to enable SmartGrid projects.
There is skepticism among some in the utility industry about using public wireless networks for SmartGrid applications. There are fears that reliability and performance issues on public networks won’t meet SmartGrid requirements. In the TNMP case, a successful 10,000-unit pilot study allayed these concerns, clearing the way for AT&T to win this SmartGrid prize.
TNMP’s SmartGrid project will enable the utility to:
- monitor and identify trends on customer usage data in 15-minute intervals
- expand capabilities to support energy management,
- provide a Home Area Network (HAN) communications gateway enabling them to manage demand response and energy efficiency activities
- offer customers the ability to monitor and regulate electricity usage via the Internet and home devices
Both AT&T and Verizon are stepping up their SmartGrid game. It looks like some of those efforts are starting to pay off.