The Central Lincoln People’s Utility District, a publicly owned electric utility located along Oregon’s rugged coastline, has selected a complete smart grid network and advanced metering solution. The utility will deploy Landis+Gyr’s Gridstream RF solution, featuring a network with communication capabilities for advanced metering, distribution automation and personal energy management applications.

Central Lincoln selected the Landis+Gyr smart grid solution after reviewing a number of competing RF and PLC technologies. One of the key reasons for choosing Landis+Gyr is that “it has proven, commercially available products,” said Bruce Lovelin, chief engineer at Central Lincoln. “Everything Landis+Gyr showed us – including ZigBee in the meter for home area networking – is available today. That weighed heavily in our decision because of the timeline we have to complete this project,” Lovelin said.

As the recipient of a Smart Grid Investment Grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, Central Lincoln needs to complete the advanced metering deployment within three years. Lovelin said the grant will allow the utility to install a more sophisticated network that goes beyond automated meter reading to offer remote disconnect and reconnects, over-the-network firmware upgrades, standards-based home area networking and integration with distribution automation devices.

Additional requirements of the grant program include demonstrated security. Central Lincoln intends to offer many of the same tools for energy management to both residential and commercial accounts. Because Landis+Gyr offers ZigBee communications in commercial meters, the utility can provide those customers with a variety of access points to usage data and price signals.

Central Lincoln will begin deploying the system in January 2011 and plans to complete the deployment in June of 2012. In addition to advanced metering and home area networking, the utility will be looking into line loss mitigation, improving service reliability and overall load management. Initially the utility was convinced it couldn’t get full coverage from an RF network in its hilly service territory. But signal propagation tests showed otherwise. Gridstream RF technology uses a powerful radio mesh network that has shown to communicate effectively in less-than-ideal conditions.

Utility District is Oregon’s fourth-largest electric utility, serving some 700 square miles and approximately 79,000 people in portions of Coos, Douglas, Lane, and Lincoln counties. Central Lincoln is not-for-profit, and is publicly-owned, meaning it was created by voters to serve the public. More than 93 percent of the electricity that Central Lincoln sells is generated without creating air pollution: 80 percent comes from hydropower, 10 percent is nuclear, and more than 3 percent is from wind power.