The electric cooperatives that deliver power to North Carolina’s rural communities are all about leveraging cutting edge technology to improve service. Electric cooperative EnergyUnited, for example, is finding new opportunities for innovation in its service to nearly 110,000 members in 19 counties across western and central North Carolina, according to a recent release.
“We trace our roots back to the 1930s,” said John McMurray, COO, EnergyUnited. “We strive to stay on top of new technology in our never-ending quest to provide exceptional service.”
EnergyUnited invested in a power line carrier (PLC) system to automate its electricity meter reading capabilities several years ago. The system delivered benefits but began experiencing issues as the technology aged. The co-op set out to improve communication with meters in the field so it looked for a communication network to deliver accurate and timely meter data, and reliable hardware and software.
“We investigated beyond the technology,” said McMurray. “We looked at who was providing that technology and how they could help deliver near real-time sensory information that would enable us to improve member services in the long term. We weren’t just looking for a smart meter solution but rather a smart grid solution.”
The co-op in the end deployed a smart utility network from Sensus, a Xylem brand, the release said. EnergyUnited also chose the Software as a Service (SaaS) solution which gave them a private and secure cloud-based environment where software maintenance is managed by Sensus.
“Besides functionality, SaaS was one of the big reasons we chose Sensus,” explained Kathleen Hart, CIO, EnergyUnited. “Having Sensus manage our software upgrades has drastically reduced the time we typically spend on them. It took us three months to deploy the last upgrade of our PLC system. Working with Sensus, our latest upgrade took less than a month.”
EnergyUnited reportedly rolled out more than 70,000 Sensus Stratus electricity meters within the first year of deployment. With the new meters in place and the ability to communicate via the secure, two-way FlexNet communication network, EnergyUnited now receives near real-time data and insights.
Ken Briodagh is a storyteller, writer and editor with about two decades of experience under his belt. He is in love with technology and if he had his druthers would beta test everything from shoe phones to flying cars.
Edited by Ken Briodagh