Evergy to lease 900 MHz broadband spectrum for grid modernization

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The utility signed a $30M 40-year lease with Anterix to deploy 900 MHz spectrum across Kansas and Missouri

Anterix announced this week that Evergy signed a lease for the use of of Anterix’s 900 MHz broadband spectrum throughout Evergy’s 28,130-square mile service territory in Kansas and Missouri. The long-term lease agreement is for 20 years, with two 10-year renewal options. 

Evergy plans to utilize the Anterix spectrum to deploy a private wireless broadband communications network using LTE technology to support its grid modernization initiatives. 

“Evergy is an innovative leader in the utility sector, and we are pleased to welcome them as the third utility in just nine months to sign a contract with Anterix for access to our 900 MHz spectrum for private LTE, joining Ameren and San Diego Gas & Electric,” said Rob Schwartz, Anterix’s President & CEO. 

“We’re also excited about this relationship because Evergy’s service area shares 25 Missouri counties with Ameren’s territory, setting the stage for the two utilities to demonstrate the first instance of collaboration towards a ‘network of networks’ using 900 MHz private LTE.” Under its earlier arrangement with Anterix, Ameren leases the 900 MHz band spectrum throughout its service territory in Illinois and Missouri, including those 25 counties. 

Anterix wrote in a notice to shareholders that the lease payment is approximately $30.2M for the 20-year initial term, which should be paid in full within thirty days after execution of the lease agreement.

When the Federal Communications Commission identified 6 MHz of 900 MHz spectrum for broadband in May 2020, Evergy’s land mobile radio system was a significant user of narrowband channels within that block, thus qualifying as a “complex system” under the new rules. That same month, Evergy agreed to exchange spectrum with Anterix, allowing Evergy to move its land mobile radio system to different 900 MHz frequencies outside the broadband allocation, thus freeing the 6 MHz of broadband spectrum for a potential future LTE system. 

Delivery of the broadband spectrum will be by county and is set to begin no later than June 30, 2022. As part of an earlier agreement with Evergy, Anterix has been proactively clearing incumbents out of the 900 MHz broadband segment in Evergy’s service territories.

“Smart grid technologies have a growing importance for our grid modernization efforts as we continue to transform our operations to a focus on clean, safe and reliable energy. Today’s agreement with Anterix provides a key component of the communications foundation required to help advance these initiatives, which are not only important for increased safety and efficiency, but are also crucial to maintain a resilient grid in the future,” said Kevin Bryant, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Evergy.

Since its creation from the 2018 merger of local energy providers Westar and Kansas City Power & Light, Evergy has been working to consolidate the operations of the merged utilities to best serve its 1.6 million customers.  Its new agreement with Anterix will help achieve that goal. The private LTE network using Anterix’s 900 MHz spectrum will enable a secure broadband communications capability throughout the combined service territory and facilitate the unified adoption of smart grid applications.

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com.

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