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Enabling Communications for Houston’s Smart Grid

In the December 2009 edition of Transmission & Distribution World magazine, CenterPoint Energy in Houston, Texas, discusses the creation of its Advanced Metering System (AMS) of more than 2 million electric meters across its 5,000 sq mile electric service territory. The AMS is CenterPoint Energy’s first step in deploying a Smart Grid.

Advanced Metering System: The pole-mounted cell relay and MDS Mercury 3650 radio in weatherproof enclosure in a Houston neighborhood.

A critical component of any AMS is a communications infrastructure. CenterPoint Energy’s challenge was how to connect the 7,000 OpenWay meter collection devices planned to be located throughout the service territory and communicate with the meters being deployed in its private network. Critical to the selection of a technology and vendor were the following minimum requirements:

Support for cyber security standards
Support for open networking standards and protocols
Ability to provide high reliability and system availability
Ability to provide the bandwidth for network loading and future network capacity
Robust network management tools and processes
Proven track record satisfying the needs of utility communication systems

CenterPoint Energy chose GE Digital Energy’s MDS Mercury 3650 radios for the AMS wireless communications network to provide connectivity from the meter data collection devices to CenterPoint’s existing private network. GE Digital Energy is also providing the engineering, program management and support services to build out the WiMAX network and make it a reality.

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