Utility Uses Telecom Fiber Assets for Indiana Smart Grid Project

With the available infrastructure already in place, it is reasonable that a utility could partner with its local telecom company to deploy new smart grid technology. After all, it wouldn’t be a smart grid if the delivery weren’t intelligent. Wisely, in Indiana, local grid masters get it.

Central Indiana Power (CIP), a local cooperative that delivers electricity to about 12,000 customers in rural communities just outside of Indianapolis, has teamed up with the local telecommunications provider, Hancock Telecom, to deploy new smart grid technology.

The project is unique because CIP is using Hancock’s fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network as the primary infrastructure. The lines will also host new demand-response initiatives coming from the local provider, Wabash Valley Power Association.

FTTH is seen as ideal because it supports data-intensive applications, such as customer signaling and load control, which require rapid and reliable two-way interaction between the operations center and each customer. Fiber’s capacity is “virtually limitless,” according to Eric Murray, president and CEO of Tantalus, the company that will provide the technology platform. The company specializes in data communications networks to monitor and control electric, gas and water utilities.

In practical terms, the new technology will allow the cooperative to remotely read meters, detect outages, disconnect and reconnect power, and monitor power quality for customers and distribution equipment. All of this will improve efficiency and reduce costs by eliminating manual procedures and minimizing the number of service trucks on the road.

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