SECO Energy, one of the largest electric cooperatives in the nation, has selected a smart grid technology provider. Sensus will provide the Florida cooperative its FlexNet Advanced Metering Infrastructure communications network and more than 172,000 electric meters equipped with remote connect and disconnect capabilities.

SECO selected Sensus after an extensive evaluation of smart grid technologies and a six-month pilot testing the FlexNet AMI network and 1200 electric meters. The FlexNet system, which is based on open standards, is a point-to-multipoint wireless network communicating via FCC-protected spectrum. The solution offered the highest transmitting power of the technologies the co-op considered and enabled SECO to easily reach a widely dispersed membership across seven noncontiguous counties.

"We spoke with a number of other cooperatives currently working with Sensus, and their positive feedback about the technology's performance and their relationship with the company played an important part in our decision," said Ben Brickhouse, director of engineering and IT for SECO. "Our experience with Sensus to date has reinforced the value of this investment and we are confident the smart grid program will deliver significant value to our members."

SECO anticipates the smart grid program will help reduce the cost of fuel and staff time required for manual meter reads and will provide additional savings by alerting the utility about meter theft and tampering. The FlexNet network will also help engineers monitor system endpoints and transformer and substation performance to improve overall quality and reliability of service.

SECO is considering future program expansion to include applications such as time of use rates and home area networking that will support members in their personal efforts for energy conservation. Meter installation will begin in July 2011 and is estimated to be completed within five to six years.