MANTECA, CA — Solar energy experts at Denver-based Conergy Americas and officials at California's South San Joaquin Irrigation District (SSJID) have installed ...

District optimizes solar energy output

MANTECA, CA — Solar energy experts at Denver-based Conergy Americas and officials at California's South San Joaquin Irrigation District (SSJID) have installed what is believed to be the world's first single-axis solar tracking system featuring thin-film photovoltaic cells. The 419-kilowatt system went live in late March. It is the second phase of a 1.6 MW solar energy solution that will save the irrigation district nearly $400,000 a year in utility costs.

The project, known as the Robert O. Schulz Solar Farm, will also provide a unique cost-benefit analysis on how two distinct solar energy solutions — crystalline panels and thin-film — perform under a range of climatic conditions.

SSJID is located in Manteca, between San Francisco and Yosemite National Park. The District provides irrigation water for 55,000 acres in the surrounding area. The Solar Farm will handle nearly all the power needs of the nearby Nick C. DeGroot Water Treatment Plant, which processes 40 million gallons of water per day for 155,000 residents and businesses in the cities of Manteca, Tracy, Escalon and Lathrop.

SSJID is also receiving $6 million in cash incentives from the California Solar Initiative program, designed to stimulate solar markets by providing cash incentives for businesses, public agencies and home owners who go solar.

Verizon Wireless, Itron combine forces to harness power of wireless technology

LIBERTY LAKE, WA, LAS VEGAS, NV, and BASKING RIDGE, NJ — Itron Inc. and Verizon Wireless announced a joint marketing agreement for development of secure, two-way communications that support utilities' access to energy usage data and advance their smart grid projects. Operating on Verizon Wireless' network, the Itron OpenWay® Cell Relay now allows utilities to more quickly collect, measure and manage energy data, while providing a reliable and affordable supply of power without having to build and operate proprietary communications networks.

The OpenWay Cell Relay is a primary component of Itron's OpenWay AMI solution and is the router for the Itron radio frequency local-area network (RFLAN). The relay, now certified to run on Verizon Wireless' network through its open development program, solidifies integration between the OpenWay RFLAN and the wide-area network (WAN) provided by Verizon Wireless' CDMA wireless data network. The network is now available as a WAN backhaul connection option in the OpenWay architecture, providing a secure, open-standards approach to data collection and communications with the meter or other smart grid devices.

City of Santa Ana completes CIS implementation

SANTA ANA, CA and WILLISTON, VT — Harris Computer Systems, a subsidiary of Constellation Software Inc., announced that the City of Santa Ana, CA, has implemented Systems & Software's enQuesta 3e solution to help provide an integrated approach to managing and optimizing its customer service operation.

With the CIS now in place, the first phase of the City's enterprise resource planning system (ERP) project is complete. The City is now delivering customer information and water, refuse, sewer, and paramedic subscription billing services to its more than 350,000 residents using enQuesta.

Pennsylvania American Water installs AMR technology in Connellsville

MCMURRAY, PA — Pennsylvania American Water has completed the final phase of installation of automated meter-reading devices for homes and businesses in its Connellsville service area. The company's approximately $400,000 investment also includes the installation of leak-detecting sensors to examine the aging distribution system for potential leaks.

Under the two-phase project, which began in 2005, Pennsylvania American Water installed the AMR devices on existing water meters for all of its approximately 5,200 Connellsville customers. Crews also installed 600 state-of-the-art leak-detection units that collect and communicate information to identify distribution system water leaks, often before they surface and cause significant damage.

The devices use radio frequency (RF) to collect customers' readings, eliminating the need to go door-to-door. “We are able to read water meters remotely is automatically gathered and sent to a data collection unit several times a day,” said David Gumbert, manager of field operations, Southwest District for Pennsylvania American Water.

Because the company will be able to regularly capture actual meter readings, customers' bills will reflect actual water usage and eliminate the need for estimated billing.

City of Ann Arbor wins award with implementation of Aclara system

ST. LOUIS, MO — The City of Ann Arbor, MI, a long-term municipal customer of Aclara, has won a Ten Years of Excellence award from Metering International for its use of the STAR® Network system for billing, high/low consumption reporting, and non-revenue water loss detection.

The Ten Years of Excellence awards recognize industry leaders who, between 2000 and 2009, made outstanding contributions to the utilities-metering sector in North America with programs, projects, and services. The award won by Ann Arbor, a city of approximately 114,000 residents, honors the most innovative implementation of advanced metering technologies by a water utility in North America.

“Ann Arbor has clearly demonstrated how small municipal utilities can successfully deploy advanced metering infrastructure to capture the data necessary for extraordinary customer-service applications — usage profiling and tracking, online access to daily consumption information, and unique billing options,” said Sue F. McCormick, public service administrator for the City of Ann Arbor.

AMI companies adopt interoperability standard

LIBERTY LAKE, WA — Elster, Trilliant and Itron Inc. have joined in support of C12.22, the newly published standard from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The open standard allows for interoperability between smart devices and networks.

The ANSI C12.22 open standard defines how to transmit standardized tables of meter data across wired or wireless networks using various transports such as IP. This open standard can play a vital role in unifying the information collected from advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) projects and smart grid initiatives while allowing utilities to select the communication technologies that make the most sense for their budget, objectives and service territory.

For more information on the standard, visit

Neptune breaks ground on new engineering center

TALLASSEE, AL — Neptune Technology Group has broken ground for a new $3.7 million, 19,000+ square foot research and development center. The new center will be located adjacent to the current engineering facility and will house up to 90 engineering personnel.

According to Charles (Chuck) C. DiLaura, president of Neptune Technology Group, “Neptune has evolved its capabilities and products to include leading-edge radio frequency design, meter reading systems, and utility management software for water, gas, and electric utilities. To support this evolution, we continue to recruit and develop talented engineering professionals. Our investment in this new facility underscores the importance of this evolution to our continued success well into the future.”

Solar system expected to save water district up to $6.8M in electricity costs

MURRIETA, CA — Rancho California Water District (RCWD) and SunPower Corp. announced the completion of a 1.1-megawatt solar-electric power system at the district's water treatment facility in Murrieta, CA. The system produces a portion of the facilities' electricity requirements, and is expected to save the district up to $6.8 million in electricity costs over the next 20 years.

The system uses SunPower solar panels with the company's Tracker® system, which follows the sun's movement during the day, increasing sunlight capture and reducing land use requirements. The system will reduce more than 2.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually, which is equivalent to removing close to 202 cars from the road.

Foster City, CA, installs water AMI system

RALEIGH, NC — With a goal of achieving operational efficiency in both data collection and customer service, California's Foster City public works officials have chosen FlexNet by Sensus as their AMI solution.

In addition to the deployment of the FlexNet system, the city is simultaneously initiating a meter replacement program, upgrading Sensus TouchRead meters that are reaching the end of their 20-year life cycle. So far, about 1,700 meters throughout the service area have been fitted with the FlexNet SmartPoints.

“We believe we are now well-positioned to achieve short- and long-term operational and customer service goals and take decisive steps in our conservation efforts,” said Ignatius Nelson, Foster City Public Works Superintendent.

County selects InfoWater for GIS modeling

BROOMFIELD, CO — Pasco County, FL, has selected MWH Soft's InfoWater software for its enterprise GIS hydraulic modeling. The County plans to use InfoWater to develop a detailed hydraulic model of its drinking water infrastructure, which it will use to optimize its operational effectiveness and capital improvement projects.

“We selected InfoWater because it has the power, functionality, and full-range capabilities we need to effectively integrate all our modeling and design activities directly with our GIS to increase productivity and create seamless workflows,” said Glenn Greer, P.E., Director of Utilities Engineering at Pasco County.

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