Utility rolls out limited deployment of intelligent grid

CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric will follow a broadband-over-power lines (BPL) pilot program with a limited deployment of intelligent-grid technology. IBM has been selected as the technology and implementation partner for the project.

The utility is planning to implement automated meter reading of electric and natural gas meters, remote connection and disconnection of electric service, and automated outage detection and restoration. BPL technology will be used for the data communications network. IBM Global Services will design and build the BPL network for the project, aid CenterPoint Energy in the design of the automated meter management system, develop associated interfaces with existing systems and provide technical operations support.

During 2006, CenterPoint Energy will deploy the new technology in three separate areas of Houston, covering a diverse mix of electric (44,500) and gas (22,500) customers, as well as multi- and single-family homes and commercial customers. In this new deployment, a key objective will be to validate the projected benefits, cost and performance metrics, and installation and operational processes. In addition, the company will work with IBM to establish overall benchmarks for a potential full deployment. Internet and other consumer applications are not a part of the 2006 limited deployment of the intelligent grid, but may be considered in the future.

CenterPoint Energy, with consulting assistance from IBM, completed a pilot program in 2005, which demonstrated the capabilities of BPL in the home with Internet access, Internet phone service, and advanced gas and electric metering. The pilot involved a 250-home area in Houston. For more information, visit the Web site.