Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative has selected Sensus as its technology provider for implementation of an advanced metering infrastructure and smart metering pilot. The project will feature the Sensus FlexNet AMI network and Sensus iCON A electric meters equipped with ZigBee. SMECO is one of the 10 largest electric co-ops in the nation, serving 148,000 customers in southern Prince George’s County, Charles County, St. Mary’s County, and most of Calvert County. The co-op is located southeast of Washington, D.C.

The pilot will launch in the first quarter of 2011 with 1,000 homes and businesses in Waldorf and 1,500 services at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Webster Field, and Solomons Recreation Center naval centers. SMECO will use the pilot to quantify the operational benefits of smart meters, such as reducing the number of unnecessary site visits. SMECO plans to expand the trial to 10,000 homes in subsequent phases.

According to Kenneth M. Capps, SMECO’s senior vice president of engineering and operations and COO, “Technological innovations assist SMECO in its efforts to better serve customers and provide the tools that will allow customers to better manage and monitor their own energy use. The system provides two-way communications from the meter to the utility to support meter reading and real-time notification of power outages, and that will help us improve response times and restore service to customer-members more quickly.” Ultimately, SMECO plans to install smart meters throughout its service area to provide all customer-members with additional smart grid applications, including demand response.

The Sensus FlexNet AMI network is a long-range radio solution that communicates via a dedicated, FCC licensed spectrum. The system reaches across broad rural, sometimes isolated, territory just as nimbly as it serves dense urban areas, all with the same minimal infrastructure requirements for a faster return on investment. With this solution, Sensus can support varying smart grid capabilities over the same multi-application, high-bandwidth network, and can expand spectrum and bandwidth over time to accommodate new applications.