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Utility chooses a wireless network

Wed., April 7, 2010

Avista project will be foundation for smart grid

Spokane-based Avista Utilities will install Tropos Networks’ wireless network as one of the key parts of its “smart grid” system, the company announced Tuesday.

Tropos, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., will provide Avista with its GridCom two-way communications capability. The wireless network will be the two-way foundation that will help deliver messages and data reports across the entire Avista power distribution system.

About $20 million of the $42 million Spokane County smart grid initiative will come from federal stimulus dollars. Avista will contribute the other $22 million, said Avista spokesman Hugh Imhof.

The same Tropos GridCom network will later be installed in Avista’s “smart grid community” project for Pullman.

Smart grid systems, in the case of utilities, means the network will monitor and identify problems and help managers quickly eliminate outages. Consumers will also see real-time reports on energy use and find ways to cut their energy bills.

Avista chose the Tropos system because of its reliability and security, according to a news release.

Imhof said Avista has not yet received money from the federal stimulus project to undertake upgrades for North Idaho customers.

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