WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumers Energy has selected SmartSynch to provide the advanced metering system that will form the foundation of a grid and meter modernization program for its 1.8 million electric customers in Michigan.
Consumers Energy's selection of SmartSynch to provide SmartMeters™ concluded a comprehensive process by the utility to find the best advanced metering solution for its customers.
The company's decision to utilize existing cellular networks for large-scale, high performance smart grid communications, in lieu of building and maintaining a private network, comes after extensive research and testing of available industry solutions. It makes Consumers Energy, which serves more than two-thirds of Michigan across a 32,000-square-mile service territory, the largest U.S. utility to choose a cellular-based communication system for the smart meter deployment phase of its grid modernization program. The companies announced the agreement today at an industry conference in Washington. Details of the contract aren't being disclosed.
Meter installation is scheduled to begin in Muskegon County in August 2012 with installation phases continuing through 2019 across the utility's service territory. In addition to the 1.8 million electric meters, the company continues to evaluate the installation of communications modules on approximately 600,000 gas meters in areas where the utility serves customers with both electricity and natural gas.
SmartSynch's technology creates a two-way communications system that will provide customers with detailed information about their energy usage, allowing them to better manage their energy use and their bills. Traditional meters just measure energy use and customers only get that information when they get their bills.
John Russell, the president and chief executive officer of Consumers Energy, said the SmartSynch technology and the grid and meter modernization project are part of the utility's focus on working with customers to help them manage their energy use.
"We're excited about installing these meters because of the benefits it will bring to our customers. We're working hard every day to provide a good energy value to our customers. This SmartSynch technology provides the flexibility, security and options that we need to continue to provide excellent service to our customers and meet their needs in the future," Russell said.
"As we develop our program, it will allow us to offer new options to customers and allow them to use our system to integrate new technology – such as smart appliances and plug-in electric vehicles – into their daily lives," Russell said.
In addition, advanced metering also provides key customer value benefits, including faster power outage identification and restoration.
SmartSynch has been the leading provider of standards-based, Internet protocol-enabled smart grid solutions utilizing existing cellular networks since the introduction of its first SmartMeter™ in 2000. SmartSynch's smart grid solutions are fully certified to securely deliver smart grid data on all major cellular networks, enabling quicker, easier, more scalable and strategic smart meter deployments for utilities.
"With this decision by one of the most respected and well managed utility organizations in the country, the advantages of utilizing existing cellular networks are now indisputable," said Stephen Johnston, SmartSynch's chief executive officer. "Consumers Energy thoroughly evaluated and tested various technologies, and objectively chose our cellular model. Only cellular networks offer the bandwidth to support the smart grid applications of today and those that will inevitably surface as smart grid technology rapidly evolves."
Johnston predicts this trend will only continue now that the industry is recognizing it is more efficient and less expensive to utilize existing cellular networks. "Today marks a very real occurrence that will alter the course of smart grid development for the good of utilities and their customers."
SmartSynch is a company that creates smart grids for the utility industry. Since 2000, we have been the only provider of open standards, IP-to-the-endpoint smart grid solutions that utilize a cellular network as the communications backbone. Our clean-tech innovations in the two-way delivery of real-time energy usage data over cellular networks, in lieu of proprietary networks, have to-date simplified deployments for 130 major North American utilities, while enabling their clean-energy initiatives and delivering greater Returns on Resources.
As a smart grid infrastructure company, SmartSynch's IP-based solutions are capable of delivering grid intelligence to and from any device. Our products and services include SmartMeters™ and SmartBoxes™ that immediately IP-enable the grid, software solutions, and network management services for utilities and their customers, as well as clean-tech companies in need of remote communications and control functionality for products ranging from solar panels to plug-in hybrid vehicles.
About Consumers Energy
Consumers Energy, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), provides natural gas and electricity to 6.8 million of Michigan's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
Find out more about Consumers Energy by visiting www.consumersenergy.com. and follow us at www.twitter.com/consumersenergy. More information on Consumers Energy's Smart Grid program can be found at www.consumersenergy.com/smartgrid.
SOURCE Consumers Energy