BVU (formerly Bristol Virginia Utilities) has become the ninth Tennessee Valley Authority electric distributor to use Tantalus as its Smart Grid communications platform, and the fourth straight utility-owned broadband provider in the region to select the technology.

Tantalus Systems Inc. will provide BVU with a smart grid solution that operates over OptiNet, the Fiber to the Home (FTTH) network deployed by the city in 2003. OptiNet offers high-speed, high-capacity connectivity to the utility’s 16,000 electric and 8,000 water accounts located in the city of Bristol as well as to customers at the farthest ends of its southwest Virginia service area.

The wireless Tantalus LAN is designed so data move efficiently between the utility and every endpoint, regardless of whether a premise is connected directly to the FTTH network. This configuration ensures a smooth evolution as time-of-use pricing, load shedding, customer signaling and advanced distribution automation applications become more prevalent.

“The pace of Smart Grid deployments in the Tennessee Valley is like nowhere else,” said Eric Murray, Tantalus’ President & CEO. “Our technology is proving to be a perfect fit for utilities like Bristol that serve both urban and rural customers, whether they use a wired system, a wireless system, or a combination of the two.”

“The frequency of data transactions is increasing by orders of magnitude,” added Murray. “A utility must be certain that network efficiency will not diminish as traffic skyrockets. In addition to a high capacity, low latency backbone network, it’s equally important that there are no congestion points on the local area network.”

The wireless Tantalus LAN is designed so data moves efficiently between the utility and every endpoint, regardless of whether a premise is connected directly to the FTTH network. This configuration ensures a smooth evolution as time-of-use pricing, load shedding, customer signalling and advanced distribution automation applications become more prevalent.
Broadband is credited for breathing new life into the region, according to Wes Rosenbalm, BVU’s president and CEO.

“Here, triple-play has translated into high-paying jobs, incredible educational opportunities and a local economy built to thrive during tough times.”

It has also filled the utility’s trophy case. Among BVU’s recent honors are a National League of Cities’ Gold Medal for Municipal Excellence, awards for community service and environmental sustainability from the American Public Power Association, being named the Community Broadband Fiber Network of the Year by the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, and being singled out at the 2009 Building the Broadband Economy Summit as a world-leading Intelligent Community.

“We’ve seen first-hand how broadband can transform a community by attracting business and improving quality of life,” said Rosenbalm. “Our sights are now set on implementing a Smart Grid that will have the same positive impact on the way energy is distributed and managed. The ability to leverage OptiNet for additional cost and energy savings will continue to pay off for years to come.”

“Bristol is a community that invests intelligently in its future,” said Murray. “It was the first U.S. municipality to offer phone, cable and data services over a community-owned fiber network. Now it has created a Homerun™ network by adding Smart Grid functionality that will help ensure both economic and environmental sustainability as well as enabling BVU to maintain a very high level of customer service.”