Illinois Rural Electric Cooperative upgrading to new generation of smart meter

REA meter_norris5-03_r2Just like the Apple watch is replacing the old windup pocket watch of your grandfather’s, smart meter tech­nology is replacing old mechanical meters like this old REA meter. And while some utilities are just beginning to roll out smart meters, Illinois Rural Electric Cooperative, Winchester, one of the first in the state to install smart meters, is already upgrading to a new hybrid system that uses both power line carrier (PLC) ­communications and a wireless 220Mhz-900MHz system.

Tantalus, provider of the TUNet® hybrid 220MHz-900MHz wireless ­network says it is designed to ­provide reliable ­system-wide coverage over widespread and ­zchallenging terrain while effectively ­extending the useful life of the old power line carrier ­system. This provides a cost-­effective migration option.

“As an early adopter of power line carrier for automated meter reading, we have seen a great deal of change in the industry,” says Sean Middleton, Manager of Engineering for Illinois Rural Electric Cooperative. “In nearly two decades with PLC, we found that while reliable, the ­inherent data delivery limitations of one-way tech­nology hindered our ability to adopt advanced applications such as demand management, dynamic pricing, and real-time ­outage notification. As a cooperative utility, finding an affordable option for moving from automated meter ­reading to an advanced metering infrastructure like TUNet is a plus. It reliably delivers real-time information in ­support of advanced applications and has been the key for us to address rising peak demand and ultimately, keep rates low for our members.”