The Kansas City Board of Public Utilities has selected a communications infrastructure for aggregating multiple smart grid applications across its 127 square mile service territory.

KCBPU, a publicly owned provider of electricity and water services in the Kansas City area, is deploying a smart grid for both power and water utilities. The utility’s smart grid goals include improving operational efficiencies, increasing reliable delivery of power and water services, and continuing to build customer satisfaction.

“A highly reliable communications infrastructure is a critical element in our smart grid rollout,” said Don Gray, general manager, KCBPU.

Building upon a successful five-year smart grid AMI pilot project which included 5,000 smart electric meters and 2,000 smart water meters, KCBPU’s plans to migrate all its customers to AMI over the next two years by installing an additional 70,000 Elster EnergyAxis electric meters. For communications, Elster’s EnergyAxis Gatekeeper will be used as the metering LAN to connect smart power and water meters; Tropos’ GridCom will extend across KCBPU’s service territory, providing wireless broadband backhaul of the metering LAN to the utility’s existing fiber network.

In addition to using the Tropos network for AMI, KCBPU is planning to eventually leverage it for other new power utility applications. For example, mobile utility workers will have access to the network for work orders and access to key information such as Graphical Information Systems (GIS) and asset management, improving timely access to information and saving trips back to their office. Distribution automation applications will help in quickly identifying power faults; closely monitoring power quality and making adjustments; and managing load across the distribution grid.