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Texas to see US’ largest rollout of wireless smart meters

Nearly a quarter-million homes in Texas are set to have smart meters installed over the next five years that will be able to measure energy usage every 15 minutes.

The meters are also designed to let the region’s electricity provider eventually manage demand response and efficiency.

Texas-New Mexico Power (TNMP) plans to install 231,000 SmartSynch SmartMeters in what will be the largest US residential deployment so far of smart meters using a public wireless network.

“Today, everything changes in terms of the future of smart grid communications, as TNMP’s decision completely validates using public wireless networks for residential smart metering,” said Stephen Johnston, SmartSynch’s CEO. “Commercial wireless carriers now realise the growth opportunity, and have radically reduced their pricing to make our solutions more cost effective than mesh network solutions.”

The $123 million smart meter project is part of a statewide effort to better match power supply and demand, and to make it possible to support dynamic pricing in which energy costs can be reduced when demand is lowest.

TNMP first tested SmartSynch’s meters with a pilot deployment of 10,000 units last year. The company reported that the meters enabled it to achieve a 99.96 per cent meter read rate across the test region. They also allowed the utility to remotely connect or disconnect electric service and receive real-time alerts to power problems.

“In the last 12 months, we have consistently achieved a near-perfect, uninterrupted read rate regardless of where the SmartSynch SmartMeter units were deployed,” said Neal Walker, vice president of Texas operations for TNMP.

TNMP adds the technology will help reduce work order costs and lower its carbon footprint as fewer trucks will be needed to go out on service calls.

Homeowners with the meters will be able to monitor and control their energy use via both the internet and in-home devices.

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