Aclara Technologies LLC, a provider of intelligent infrastructure solutions and a member of the utility solutions group of ESCO Technologies Inc., announces enhanced TWACS (eTWACS). Aclara's TWACS power-line communications technology is a leading advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) solution nationwide, communicating with more than 13.5 million deployed smart devices and retrieving hourly data with a read rate higher than 99% for over 360 utilities.

With eTWACS, utilities now can send and receive more data over power lines than they could with earlier generations of TWACS. The eTWACS protocol allows concurrent, bidirectional transmission of data on all three phases of an AC electrical distribution feeder as well as on all busses and substations simultaneously. The net effect, in most cases, can triple the communications capacity of an Aclara power-line communications system and add significant capacity for future communication needs.

What does this mean to the utility? Utilities now can use the additional capacity provided by eTWACS to handle smart grid applications above and beyond meter reading. Utilities deploying eTWACS now will have plenty of capacity to handle tasks such as outage management, load control and distribution management. For example, testing by Aclara confirmed that with eTWACS, the time to retrieve a full complement of “shifted” meter data from a 5,000-meter bus — including intervals, voltages, kilowatt hours, tamper indicators, error flags and demand — could be reduced from 60 minutes to 20 minutes.

The two-way functionality of eTWACS also allows the utility to communicate effectively to each endpoint to issue on-request reads, control load-shed events, remotely connect and disconnect meters, and download feature enhancements. Aclara eTWACS is fully backward compatible with previous versions of TWACS equipment so that eTWACS-capable and earlier generation TWACS technology endpoints can coexist while maximizing communication capacity.

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