TWACS new AMIgo advanced metering system delivers more interval data at high speed

St. Louis, Missouri, September 16, 2005 — Distribution Control Systems Inc. (DCSI), a subsidiary of ESCO Technologies Inc., has announced the release of system components that enable its new AMIgo system to manage and deliver vastly increased numbers of two-way commands by fully exploiting parallelism inherent in the electrical grid. The TWACS system already has the proven ability to communicate concurrently on multiple electrical phases and to exploit other elements of parallelism available in the electrical network. The marriage of two new products, IMT-XM and MIRA, enables the TWACS system to deliver greatly increased amounts of interval data at an extremely high rate of speed.

Utilities will find that compliance with provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 relating to advanced metering devices can be more easily satisfied with deployment of the TWACS AMIgo system. More information delivered on a timely basis through advanced metering and communications technology enables utilities to deliver to their customers the tools they need as they manage energy use. Hour-by-hour consumption of electricity can be measured on a system-wide basis, enabling residential customers’ participation in time-based pricing, such as Critical Peak Pricing, and other demand response programs. Shorter interval data can be acquired by the system for commercial customers and special tariffs.

These capabilities all build on the solid foundation that DCSI’s TWACS system has offered to the market for more than 20 years by allowing utilities to utilize their existing power lines, without the need for any power line conditioning or dispersed infrastructure, since the TWACS system operates at the frequency for which the electrical network was designed. Existing TWACS deployments can also take advantage of these new products because backward compatibility has been preserved.

AMIgo System Components

The IMT-XM is a TWACS metering transponder that adds the ability to compute fixed block demand with 15-minute or 30-minute intervals, stores daily read data and hourly interval data for seven days, provides enhanced group addressing, and performs a monthly self-read according to the programmable billing cycle date. The IMT-XM’s expanded addressing features increase transponder grouping capability from 64 meters to 256 meters, and allow groups to be remotely programmed via selective broadcast mode within seconds. The IMT-XM provides access to electrical consumption, calculates fixed block demand and related billing information and includes built-in peak demand measurement. IMT-XM can perform remote demand reset and has an autonomous daily and monthly (billing cycle) self-read feature. Daily interval readings are stored in non-volatile memory for seven days. The IMT-XM module is retrofittable into a wide variety of electromechanical residential meters produced over the past 25 years from all major US suppliers, enabling the utility’s existing assets to be leveraged. Thus, the IMT-XM provides one of the lowest cost methods of implementing scaleable systems and the application of multiple capabilities of Advanced Metering Infrastructures.

MIRA board
The Multiple Input Receiver Assembly (MIRA) board is a TWACS multiple parallel processing receiver that increases the maximum number of inputs that can be supported when using Concurrent Phase Communications. The number of two-way commands that can be processed are increased, as the system supports concurrent phase communications in substations with as many as 32 feeders using a single Control and Receiving Unit (CRU). This will also reduce the cost of the AMIgo system since achieving this level of throughput would require more than one CRU, prior to introduction of the MIRA board. The MIRA increases the rate at which meters can be addressed in the TWACS system, reduces the bandwidth required for searching meters, reduces the complexity of configuring management software search modes, improves reliability of path assignments which improves AMR performance and reduces the time needed to respond to path switching events.

Almost as exciting is the ability for the AMIgo system to participate in detecting power outages, mapping the extent of an outage and monitoring the full restoration of power to all consumers. Together, these two products permit acquisition of real-time status of the electrical grid (e.g., “Smart Grid”) at much higher rates than the presently deployed TWACS system. Already, the TWACS system has compiled a strong track record by permitting a number of utilities to save money and improve customer satisfaction in their response to both small and large-scale power outages. Perhaps most notable was PPL Electric Utilities use of their TWACS system to manage and speed the restoration of power in the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel. More than 400,000 of PPL’s customers were affected by Isabel.

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