Office Hours

Avista selects open-standards wireless system for smart grid communications in Spokane

California communications company Tropos Networks has signed a $1.7 million contract to provide wireless services for Avista Utilities' smart grid energy network.

A press release today said Avista selected Tropos' "GridCom" mesh network system for full, two-way communications from substations to "smart" devices being installed across the Spokane electrical system grid.

Spokesman Hugh Imhof said the contract with Tropos allows Avista to install the network equipment and has Tropos providing ongoing support. The same network, not included in this contract, will be used in the Avista pilot Smart Grid project for Pullman.

Avista made the selection after reviewing a range of other industry options, the press release said.

The Spokane area upgrade to the smart grid system will run about $42 million. Of that, $20 million will come from federal stimulus money, said Imhof.

So, what's in it for Avista's roughly 365,000 power customers?

 

Under the term "smart grid," utilities are adding two-way, real time connections that are able to pinpoint problems in energy distribution, along with helping consumers and utilities better monitor energy use.

The Tropos mesh (wireless) network will  help the Avista system managers find locations of faults and more quickly dispatch line crews to fix the problem.

Avista, in a release, said it selected the GridCom system because it is based on open-standards networking -- meaning useful components and additional  services developed by other firms can quickly be included in the network.




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Tom Sowa
Tom Sowa covers technology, retail and economic development and writes the Office Hours blog.






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