Cooperation among infrastructure providers, particularly in rural areas, offers a potential for improving efficiency and creating the opportunity for new revenue sources. In this interview, Ralph Dunn of McMinnville Electric System, describes the combination Wi-Fi and fiber network that is the underpinning of the nascent McMinnville Electric System Smart Grid.
As Dunn suggests, this network promises to improve energy efficiency, as well as the accounting of electricity use. With an initial focus is on high-energy users, such as business and manufacturing, McMinnville Electric System also has plans to roll out the service to its some 8,000 residential customers.
By using Wi-Fi-enabled smart meters that connect to pole-mounted, fiber-fed ONTs, they are able to create a high-speed and reliable smart-grid infrastructure. Because of the wireless connection between the meters and the fiber network, installation is relatively fast.
Although it is still early, with a little less than 10 percent of homes having been equipped with smart meters, Dunn points to the future benefits of tying smart meters to a demand response system that gives customers and their appliances real-time feedback. This feature will allow customers to minimize their costs by controlling when they consume power (and helping McMinnville shave peak electrical load requirements).
Further, Dunn points out that the ability to do further enhance the offering, such as the creation of a widget on a TV channel, was a key consideration for their selection of their network partner and Calix customer, Ben Lomand Connect.
Ken Pyle is Managing Editor of the Viodi View and Producer of ViodiTV. The Viodi View is an online newsletter with a focus on rural broadband operators, while ViodiTV produces video content about and for those operators, their vendors, and related association and trade conferences.