Central Indiana Power deploys FTTH-based smart grid

Dec. 2, 2010
DECEMBER 1, 2010 -- Central Indiana Power (CIP) will deploy a fiber-based smart grid in cooperation with Hancock Telecom, a local communications cooperative. CIP will use equipment provided by Tantalus to leverage Hancock Telecom’s FTTH network.

DECEMBER 1, 2010 -- Central Indiana Power (CIP) will deploy a fiber-based smart grid in cooperation with Hancock Telecom, a local communications cooperative. CIP will use equipment provided by Tantalus to leverage Hancock Telecom’s FTTH network.

The FTTH network will be used to support smart metering as well as prepare for the demand response initiatives proposed by Wabash Valley Power Association, which provides power to CIP and other utilities in the region.

Eric Murray, Tantalus president and CEO, predicts that mutually beneficial business arrangements between telecom providers and electric cooperatives will become common at utilities like CIP, which serves 12,000 homes, businesses, and farms in a fast growing community located 25 miles east of Indianapolis.

“It’s natural for telecoms and utilities to work together,” Murray said. “Many telecoms already supply their local electric co-op with wireless or wired connectivity to substations. By collaborating with Hancock, CIP can extend connectivity to other points in the distribution network via the telecom’s existing infrastructure. It’s a logical next step that will accelerate smart grid roll out, avoids the cost and complexity of building and maintaining two separate communications networks, and consolidates billing, customer service and many other business functions under one roof.”

Although CIP did not receive federal grant money, Murray said the deployment ties together the objectives of both the Dept. of Energy’s ARRA Smart Grid stimulus program and the Dept. of Agriculture’s Broadband Initiative Program by bringing high bandwidth communications as well as advanced energy management capabilities to a rural community.

The Tantalus technology will help automate meter readings, outage detection, and disconnect/reconnect procedures. It also can help the utility optimize the network through 24/7 power quality monitoring at member homes and on distribution equipment in order to detect and often correct a potential problem before it impacts service, Tantalus asserts.

As reported in the July/August 2010 issue of Lightwave, many utilities are looking at fiber as an enabler of smart grid initiatives (see “Fiber and the smart grid”).

“Fiber supports data intensive applications including customer signaling and load control which require rapid and reliable two-way interaction between the operations center and each customer,” Murray said. “Capacity is virtually limitless, so more and more devices such as smart appliances will be able to communicate over the network without the risk of data congestion. It’s a future friendly solution.”

CIP is the first rural cooperative to deploy a Tantalus Homerun Network, which leverages a FTTH backbone network for triple-play media (multi-channel TV, voice over IP, and high speed Internet) as well as full smart grid functionality. A growing number of Tantalus municipal utility customers including EPB Chattanooga (see “EPB Fiber Optics offers 1 Gigabit broadband via GPON”), Jackson Energy, and Pulaski Electric are already using a city-owned FTTH network for advanced energy management.

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