Duke Energy beefs up its smart grid communications architecture

Charlotte, N.C., September 2, 2010 — Duke Energy selected California-based Echelon Corp. and Massachusetts-based Ambient Corp. to further develop its grid-based communications architecture that connects various digital devices such as smart meters, power line sensors and automated power switching equipment.

Duke Energy is building a secure smart grid network that will serve our customers today and for years to come,” said Duke Energy Chief Customer Officer Gianna Manes. “For customers to fully experience the benefits of a smarter power delivery system, we have to look beyond today’s technology and build a communications architecture that supports open, interoperable standards and enables the connection of a variety of digital devices that can evolve with future needs and changes.”

Duke Energy currently uses products developed by both Ambient and Echelon as part of its smart grid deployment efforts in Ohio, and in pilot projects in North Carolina and South Carolina.

“We have worked successfully with Ambient and Echelon in the past, and we are confident in their ability to deliver quality products,” Manes said. “Selecting both companies supports our desire to work with multiple vendors as we deploy digital technology throughout the five states we serve.”

“Ambient looks forward to continuing our five-year relationship with Duke Energy, having been the key contributor to the communications component in Duke’s smart grid architecture,” said John J. Joyce, president and CEO of Ambient Corp. “We believe Duke Energy’s strategy, based on open protocols and technologies, will deliver benefits for all stakeholders.”

“Echelon is committed to helping Duke Energy deliver an exceptional customer experience with a reliable, efficient and clean supply of electricity,” said Ron Sege, Echelon’s CEO and president. “At a time when peak loads are at their highest and outages are costing Americans $150 billion a year, utilities require solutions to help them monitor, detect and control the conditions that ensure a secure and dependable grid. Our open, application-ready, platform will enable Duke and its partners to build and deploy intelligent distributed control solutions.”

A key component of Duke Energy’s smart grid communications architecture is the communications node. The nodes are installed on the grid alongside electric power transformers located overhead and at ground level.

Once in place, the devices gather data from numerous digital devices and send it over a telecommunications network to Duke Energy, where the information is collected and used for various business purposes such as billing and power grid management.

Energy usage information is also made available to customers so they can see their specific energy usage data, which they can then use to make more informed decisions about how and when to use energy.



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