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Texas Co-op Migrates from Power Line Carrier System to Sensus Next-Generation AMI

Comanche Electric Cooperative makes seamless transition to improve operations

Comanche Electric Cooperative covers seven counties and services 5,000 miles of power line. This vast Texas landscape serves as a playground for outdoor enthusiasts, but it’s no walk in the park for the cooperative to provide dependable services to customers.

“Generating and distributing power can be a tricky business in the rural and rugged Texas terrain,” said Chad Foreman, director of IT at Comanche Electric Cooperative. “On top of this, sending out technicians to collect and analyze data from more than 17,000 meters with such diverse terrain can be challenging.”

After more than a decade pioneering the use of a power line carrier (PLC) system for electric metering, Comanche decided it was time to usher in a new era of innovation to support its growing base of approximately 9,000 members.

Making the move

Comanche Electric Cooperative’s PLC system had served them well, but challenges began to mount as the years rolled by. Meters were getting older and causing power quality issues. It was becoming increasingly difficult for the cooperative to make necessary repairs and updates to the aging infrastructure.

“We knew there had to be a better way than the PLC system,” said Foreman. “The amount of time it took to get data from all our meters in the field was unsustainable and we knew that there were technologies becoming available that could speed up our processes.”

Choosing the right solution

While Comanche Electric Cooperative’s aging PLC system could no longer support member needs, it did offer the framework for a seamless transition to advanced metering infrastructure (AMI). Comanche’s team searched for a network solution to deliver data over diverse terrain, improve operational efficiency and reduce the number of trucks out in the field.

As we look to expand our response to new customer demands, the Sensus AMI solution ensures that we are well positioned to answer the call.
– Chad Foreman, Director of IT, Comanche Electric Cooperative

After a thorough search, Comanche launched a pilot program with the Sensus AMI solution. The team noted the system offered all the capabilities needed to successfully transition from the PLC system and bring its infrastructure in line with customer needs. As the pilot proved successful, the cooperative moved forward with a full deployment.

Comanche Electric upgraded its aging PLC system to the Sensus AMI solution for more accurate, dependable service for its 9,000+ members.

A smooth, strategic transition

Comanche Electric Cooperative’s AMI solution consisted of Sensus smart meters, which ran on the point-to-multipoint Sensus FlexNet® communication network. Enabling the quick transmission of usage data over a secure, reliable two-way network, the solution gave the cooperative the visibility and control it needed.

“With real-time data provided by the Sensus AMI system, we could streamline the outage management process and offer a superior level of service to customers,” said Foreman. “The solution also freed up staff time and made us more efficient across our operations by adding advanced capabilities such as remote disconnect of meters.”

In addition to improving operations and customer service, the flexibility of the Sensus system allowed Comanche Electric Cooperative to roll out new applications and advance on their own timeline.

“By choosing a communications network with the ability to overlay existing infrastructure, we could install new meters anywhere in our service territory without impacting current operations,” said Foreman.

Future smart technologies

Using the Sensus FlexNet system, the co-op managed its AMI deployment and new meter installations over a two-year span without disrupting existing services or capabilities. The team reviewed current processes and adapted them to the new system in an organized manner with a systematic and controlled approach during rollout.

“With FlexNet, we installed meters, assessed new deployments and managed it all while everything remained connected across our technology infrastructure,” said Foreman. “The system allowed us to be strategic in our approach, adding new features and functionality on a schedule that makes the most sense for our cooperative.”

As Comanche Electric Cooperative’s requirements evolve, its network architecture provides the capacity for advancement as the industry continues to progress with the introduction of new applications and smart technologies.

“Capabilities for demand response, distribution automation and smart lighting are all supported by the FlexNet communication network,” said Foreman. “As we look to expand our response to new customer demands, the Sensus AMI solution ensures that we are well positioned to answer the call.”


Challenge:
Make the transition from PLC to next-gen AMI

Solution:
Deploy Sensus AMI solution with the FlexNet communication network

Reach Farther:
Use smart meters to improve customer service and future-proof applications

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