Multi-Utility AMI System Gains Acceptance with Combination Utilities

System is First to Combine PLC with Short-Hop RF for 3-in-1 Solution

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System is First to Combine PLC with Short-Hop RF for 3-in-1 Solution

Combination utilities looking for an all-inclusive advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) are more and more turning to the TS2 Multi-utility system from Hunt Technologies.

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The TS2 Multi-utility endpoint in the electric meter communicates with the ORION transmitter in the water or gas meter creating a versatile 3-in-1 fixed network AMI solution.
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One reason is the TS2 system’s power line carrier-based fixed network which provides continuous communication with all electric meters on the system. The TS2 Multi-utility system is paired with ORION® RF modules for water and gas meters, providing an efficient 3-in-1 solution for electric, water and gas.

According to Alan Swanson, Senior Product Manager at Hunt, deploying Hunt’s fixed network multi-utility system enables continuous communication with the endpoint. Data is available on a daily basis to support off-cycle reads. Tamper and outage information is automatically transmitted. Customer service is improved because historical data is available to help resolve billing issues.

“Hunt’s multi-utility system provides a true AMI solution for electric, water and gas, because it offers round-the-clock connectivity for outage and leak detection, time-based billing and distribution analysis,” Swanson said.

The system is well suited to municipal utilities that provide both electric and water service. Utilities in North Carolina, Massachusetts, Indiana, Oregon and Minnesota have begun multi-utility deployments within the past year.

Investor-owned utilities with combination service also benefit from the system’s scalability and the ease with which highly dispersed service territories can be linked without added communications infrastructure.

“Daily usage information is helpful for building rate cases, model flows, and the ability to bill on maximum daily demand,” said Glenn Appleton, Director of Meter and Service at Unitil, a New Hampshire-based IOU that is deploying the TS2 Multi-utility system.

The advantages of a 3-in-1 solution extend to all areas of utility operations and include:

• Fixed network utilizes existing power line infrastructure for cost efficiency, reliability and added functionality
• Constant communication provides tamper detection for gas and water, leak detection for water and outage and restoration detection for electric
• Broad meter compatibility reduces capital expenditure
• One source of billing data for all utility services
• Flexible billing cycles, including off-cycle reads
• Unprecedented software interoperability for pulling AMI data into existing engineering, operations and accounting applications

ORION Transmitter

The TS2 Multi-utility system is the first power line carrier system to successfully integrate with a short-hop RF transmitter. A key advantage of such a system is the simultaneous and continuous connection with all meters it provides. Equipped with an RF antenna, the TS2 Multi-utility endpoint in the electric meter serves as a data receiver for the transmitter in the water and/or gas meters on the system. This robust RF link between meters is capable of traveling great distances and through obstacles, making it effective in both low and high density deployments.

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Continuous, two-way communication between the endpoint and data collector provides data for outage management, leak and tamper detection, as well as the ability to send commands to load control and remote disconnect devices.
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The multi-utility endpoint is engineered to communicate with the ORION transmitter from Badger Meter. Designed to meet the needs of utilities of all sizes, the ORION system uses standard system protocols and interfaces to easily connect to all Badger® water meters, as well as most other encoder registers used in the water industry. The ORION gas module uses a custom adapter plate that is compatible with most gas meters.

ORION water transmitters are available in three configurations - integral mount, remote mount and pit mount - and automatically send meter data to the multi-utility endpoint at predetermined intervals, with no “wake-up” signal required. This enables daily usage data from each service type to be readily available to all departments in the utility.

Integrated Software

Command Center™, the operating software for Hunt Technologies AMI systems, processes the data for all meters on the system. The software validates the data before making it available to billing, operations and engineering systems at the utility.

Along with its many command and control functions, Command Center enables the utility to access a variety of data each day, including a daily reads status report for all meter endpoints. Additionally, the billing day can be scheduled for any time period, and Command Center can remotely program endpoints to retrieve data accordingly.

“Command Center adds value to vast array of data the utility can access with the TS2 system by making it easy to integrate into most applications,” said Scott Juranek, director of software and architecture at Hunt. “It also enables true, two-way communication for remote programming of endpoints, time-based billing functions, remote disconnect and demand response.”

Meter Choice

Compatibility with multiple meter platforms adds to the convenience and efficiency of deploying a TS2 Multi-utility system. Utilities can select from both electromechanical and solid-state endpoints for residential metering, as well as a solid-state, multi-form polyphase meter option.

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The multi-utility endpoint is engineered to communicate with the ORION transmitter from Badger Meter.
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In addition to compatibility with most electromechanical meters, the endpoint is currently available in the CENTRON® and GE kV2c platforms. These meters provide multi-form options covering the full range of metering applications.

While utilities look to AMI systems for unique information and control needs, the one thing TS2 Multi-utility system customers have in common is the desire for simplicity. In fact, the main selling point is the convenience of installing and maintaining a single AMI system.

“In addition to offering more complete system coverage, a multi-functional AMI system is simpler to deploy, administer and maintain,” Swanson said. “And this ultimately accelerates the utility’s return on investment.”

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