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Sensus Provides AMI Communications Infrastructure for Grand Cayman Utility
FlexNet wireless communications system offers higher protection against tropical storms and seamless interoperability with pre-pay billing application for a Caribbean utility
CUC is implementing the wireless licensed spectrum FlexNet AMI system with only two tower base stations to cover all of Grand Cayman, an area of about 76 square miles. CUC is installing Sensus iCon® A electric meters for residential applications and iCon® APX electric meters for commercial customers with roughly 28,000 endpoints by the project’s completion. In conjunction with the FlexNet AMI installation, CUC has chosen to deploy a pre-pay billing application. Third party vendor Exceleron will partner with Sensus to provide its industry leading Prepaid Account Management System (PAMS), a hosted service sharing a common MultiSpeak interface. PAMS will exchange data seamlessly with the FlexNet system and CUC’s customer information system (CIS). A phased deployment has begun and the project is expected to be completed by the end of 2013.
“The Sensus FlexNet system offered the right features and capabilities to meet the requirements of our AMI business case,” said Manager Engineering Services at CUC, Sacha Tibbetts. “We were further encouraged by the speed and available bandwidth of the FlexNet network which allows for the layering of future smart grid functionality.”
Mr. Tibbetts explained that CUC made its selection based on two main factors. The minimal infrastructure required by a point-to-multipoint wireless network was essential as it reduces storm damage risks and has a lower overall cost to install and maintain. The second major consideration was the need for a pre-paid billing option that could provide flexibility for part-time residents and visitors to the island as well as full time residents who want greater control over the amount of money they spend on electricity. Exceleron’s PAMS software has been successfully integrated with FlexNet and was made part of the proposal to CUC.
Under a pre-paid plan, customers can buy electricity in any quantity without the need to have a security deposit on account. CUC’s pre-paid customers will receive notification of a low balance (in dollars) through email, text or automated voice messages as reminder for them to top up their balance. They will have the opportunity to track usage and make payments through a dedicated web portal as well as pay by phone, CUC kiosk or office. Based on consumer feedback, and experience in other Caribbean jurisdictions, CUC believes that qfxwm the pre-paid form of electricity purchase will be very popular and they plan on making it available to as many customers as possible.
Installation of the full AMI system in the Caribbean island territory is expected to be straight forward. As FCC licensed spectrum does not apply in the region, Sensus helped CUC secure and integrate licensed 900 MHz frequencies from the Information Communication Technology Authority (ICTA) which governs spectrum for the Cayman Islands. The FlexNet system will be able to accommodate future applications for distribution automation and demand response.
“CUC is making the leap to smart grid in a very responsible, coordinated manner that will certainly improve service reliability and efficiency across the island,” said Randolph Wheatley, vice president of corporate marketing and communications at Sensus. I think the adaptability of our technology to meet specific needs in that part of the world certainly stood out and made the selection process much easier.”
Sensus is a leading utility infrastructure company offering smart meters, communication systems, software and services for the electric, gas, and water industries. Sensus technology helps utilities drive operational efficiency and customer engagement with applications that include advanced meter reading, data acquisition, demand response, distribution automation, home area networking and outdoor lighting control. Customers worldwide trust the innovation, quality and reliability of Sensus solutions for the intelligent use and conservation of energy and water. Learn more at www.sensus.com.
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