Itron Inc. (NASDAQ: ITRI) announces that it has signed an agreement with CenterPoint Energy, Inc.’s (NYSE: CNP) electric transmission and distribution utility for deployment of OpenWay® advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) technology in the Houston area.
Subject to regulatory approval from the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT), CenterPoint Energy’s deployment plans call for initial installation of OpenWay network communication infrastructure and electricity meters to meet the advanced metering and data collection needs of retail electric providers (REPs) operating in CenterPoint Energy’s service territory. The contract provides CenterPoint Energy the ability to purchase up to 2 million meters if CNP ultimately moves to a full deployment across its electric service territory.
Under the agreement with Itron, CenterPoint Energy plans to begin broader deployment of OpenWay technology with the installation of up to 250,000 OpenWay electricity meters beginning in second half of 2009, with focus on establishing core AMI functionality and benefits to those customers. This initial deployment plan was submitted to the PUCT by CenterPoint on May 5, 2008 and is subject to the PUCT’s approval.
Based on success in the initial deployment and further regulatory approval, CenterPoint Energy’s current expectation is that it would then transition into a full-deployment phase for 2 million electricity customers in its Houston service territory, while also focusing on integration of its AMI and smart grid initiatives. CenterPoint Energy also expects to employ the OpenWay technology if it decides to automate its 1 million gas meters in the Houston area.
“Deployment of advanced metering technology will help ensure that the intended benefits of the Texas competitive retail electric market are achieved, namely that consumers have more choices and control over energy usage and costs and the ability to choose their individual electricity supplier,” said Tom Standish, group president for regulated operations at CenterPoint Energy. “By proposing a phased approach to regulatory approval and AMI deployment, we have charted a course designed to create a win-win situation for both consumers and retail electric providers in our service territory. This ‘modular’ approach to deployment will enable us to deliver value and benefits to consumers, to initiate our AMI and intelligent grid initiatives, and also effectively manage the risk that technology projects of this size present,” Standish said.
OpenWay by Itron is a new-generation, open-architecture AMI solution that features full-two way communication to every meter and is designed to meet a broad set of advanced metering, communication and control technology requirements that many utilities will face in the years to come.
“From the beginning, CenterPoint Energy has been a visionary and industry leader in moving AMI and smart grid from abstract ideas toward implementation and reality,” said Philip Mezey, senior vice president and COO of Itron North America. “Our strategic relationship with CenterPoint has been an invaluable learning experience that has enabled Itron to accelerate the development and commercialization of OpenWay technology and in the process, set a new industry standard for AMI technology. We’re looking forward to continuing our work with CenterPoint Energy as they begin the deployment phase of their AMI and smart grid initiatives.”