Silicon Valley Power lets residents piggyback on its communications network


By: SGN Staff


Quick Take: I've been talking about multi-service networks for years now. The idea is to build one network, then use it for many things. Typically, that means the utility using it for different things, such as AMI, distribution automation, outage management and so on.

But as the smart city movement accelerates, we're seeing more and more cases where a city wants to add non-utility applications such as Internet access for citizens, street light control, traffic light control, parking space sensors and many others. ABB's Tropos subsidiary has installed several mixed-use networks around the world, and now Silicon Valley Power (SVP) is doing something similar by making its Tropos field area communications network available for free public Wi-Fi access.

I applaud the effort and urge all utilities to look for ways to leverage their communications networks, both internally and with external organizations including cities, public safety or even private industry. First, it is the right thing economically, since it avoids redundant and duplicative systems. Second, it can take some of the pressure off by creating partners to help pay for installation and upkeep. - Jesse Berst


Santa Clara's municipal electric utility, Silicon Valley Power (SVP), provided free outdoor wireless Internet access for its customers as part of its advanced metering SVP MeterConnect program. SVP said Santa Clara is the first city in the country to offer free outdoor Wi-Fi access to an entire community as an element of an advanced electric meter upgrade program that employs wireless technology to read meters.


"This is just one of the major benefits our community will enjoy as a result of our advanced metering technology," said John Roukema, SVP director. "Now our residents, visitors and local workforce can get Internet access while waiting for a train, shopping downtown, getting their car washed or relaxing in their yard."


The utility plans to begin installing the advanced meters, which will track electricity and water usage wirelessly, late this year. The system also will help SVP identify power outages quickly and help customers monitor their electricity use.


Jesse Berst is the founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid, the industry's oldest and largest smart grid site. A frequent keynoter at industry events in the U.S. and abroad, he also serves on advisory committees for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Institute for Electric Efficiency. He often provides strategic consulting to large corporations and venture-backed startups. He is a member of the advisory boards of GridGlo and Calico Energy Services.


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