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News Release

NC Electric Co-op Modernizes with Smart Utility Network from Sensus

AMI and Software as a Service help EnergyUnited embrace innovation

North Carolina has a proud history of innovation and advancement dating back to the Wright brothers and their historic first flight near Kitty Hawk in 1903.

This culture of innovation also lives in the electric cooperatives that deliver power to North Carolina’s rural communities. Electric cooperative EnergyUnited, for example, continues to find new opportunities for innovation in its service to nearly 110,000 members in 19 counties across western and central North Carolina.

“We trace our roots back to the 1930s,” said EnergyUnited’s Chief Operating Officer John McMurray.  “We strive to stay on top of new technology in our never-ending quest to provide exceptional service.”

EnergyUnited had invested in a power line carrier (PLC) system to automate their electricity meter reading capabilities. The system delivered benefits for years but began experiencing issues as the technology aged. The co-op wanted to improve communication with meters in the field and knew exactly what they were looking for: a communication network to deliver accurate and timely meter data; reliable hardware and software to keep member costs low; and a partner they could trust to maximize their members’ experience.

“We investigated beyond the technology,” said McMurray. “We looked at who was providing that technology and how they could help deliver near real-time sensory information that would enable us to improve member services in the long term. We weren’t just looking for a smart meter solution but rather a smart grid solution.”

Alerts from EnergyUnited’s smart utility network enable rapid response time and service support their members can count on during outages and in emergency situations.

After a thorough search, the co-op deployed a smart utility network from Sensus, a Xylem brand. EnergyUnited also chose the Software as a Service (SaaS) solution which gave them a private and secure cloud-based environment where software maintenance is managed by Sensus.

“Besides functionality, SaaS was one of the big reasons we chose Sensus,” explained EnergyUnited’s Chief Information Officer Kathleen Hart. “Having Sensus manage our software upgrades has drastically reduced the time we typically spend on them. It took us three months to deploy the last upgrade of our PLC system. Working with Sensus, our latest upgrade took less than a month.”

EnergyUnited rolled out more than 70,000 Sensus Stratus® electricity meters within the first year of deployment. With the new meters in place and the ability to communicate via the secure, two-way FlexNet® communication network, EnergyUnited now receives near real-time data and insights.

“Shortly after deploying, we received an alert from one of our new Stratus meters about a potential outage and we dispatched a crew within one minute,” said McMurray. “Seven minutes later, 911 emergency services called us about the problem but we were already addressing it.”

The remote management capabilities not only improve outage response and save staff time but also lessen the utility’s carbon footprint with service calls.

“EnergyUnited recognizes the importance of sustainability measures and has eliminated about 450 truck rolls a month, which represents a 25% decrease over three months,” said Hart.

Read the case study to learn more about how EnergyUnited is using solutions from Sensus to innovate and stay ahead of customer needs.

  • North Carolina co-op EnergyUnited was looking to upgrade their PLC system to a more innovative smart grid solution that could deliver improved communication.
  • EnergyUnited chose a smart utility network from Sensus including Stratus® smart electricity meters, the two-way FlexNet® communication network, and Software as a Service (SaaS).
  • With remote management capabilities, near real-time data insights and SaaS upgrades, the co-op has been able to operate more efficiently and quickly to respond to member needs.

It took us three months to deploy the last upgrade of our PLC system. Working with Sensus, our latest [software] upgrade took less than a month.

Kathleen Hart

EnergyUnited Chief Information Officer

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