Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Progress Report of Advanced Metering in 2006

FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission)



Docket number 06-2-000



AMI data collection involves the collection and retrieval of meter data without physically visiting the

meter site, and is typically done by means of a fixed network.59 Today, electric utilities use various

types of AMI systems. The different types of AMI systems available on the market today are:

  • Broadband over power line
  • Power line communications
  • Fixed radio frequency (RF) networks
  • Systems utilizing public networks (landline, cellular, or paging)

Each of these different AMI system types are examined in more detail below.

Broadband Over Power Line (BPL)60

BPL works by modulating high-frequency radio waves with the digital signals from the Internet.

These high frequency radio waves are fed into the utility grid at specific points, often at substations.

They travel along medium voltage circuits and pass through or around the utility transformers to

subscribers’ homes and businesses. Sometimes the last leg of the journey, from the transformer to the

home, is handled by other communication technologies, such as Wi-Fi.

As seen in Figure III-2 below, substations receive power from power plants over high voltage lines,

and then step down the voltage to transmit power to distribution transformers over medium voltage

circuits. Each medium voltage circuit services 20-25 distribution transformers which convert the

medium voltage down to the voltage level used within most homes and businesses (110v/220v).

Between one and six homes are connected to each distribution transformer which translates to about

100 homes passed per medium voltage circuit.

(59 A fixed network refers to either a private or public communication infrastructure which allows the utility to

communicate with meters without visiting or driving by the meter location.

60 The information in this section relies heavily on facts provided in a seminar presented in 2005 by UtiliPoint:)

Ethan Cohen, UtiliPoint, “BPL Hope, Hyperbole, and Reality,” April 2005

Power Line Communications (PLC)

PLC systems send data through powerlines by injecting information into either the current, voltage or

a new signal. This can be accomplished by slightly perturbing the voltage or current signal as it

crosses the zero point or adding a new signal onto the power line. The system normally has equipment

installed in utility substations to collect the meter readings provided by the endpoint, and then the

information is transmitted using utility communications or public networks to the utility host center for

the PLC system. The low frequency signals used in PLC communications in the United States are not

filtered out by distribution transformers.

PLC systems are particularly well suited to rural environments, but have also been successfully used in

urban environments.62 For utilities with both rural and suburban areas in their service territory, PLC

provides an option for using one AMI technology for the entire service territory for electric meters.

PLC systems initially targeted residential and small commercial metering, but are now able to read for

larger customers as well.

61 “Is the Ambient system compatible with all distribution systems?” Frequently asked questions on Ambient

Corporation website, http://www.ambientcorp.com/pages/faqs-UTILITY.htm, “For all practical purposes, yes. In the US and

Canada, all systems are essentially the same from a BPL perspective. In other countries, differences in voltage, frequency and

configuration (specifically, the number of customers on each distribution transformer) can impact equipment and system

design. In general, the higher density of customers per transformer in Europe and other countries works in favor of BPL.”

62 PPL Electric Utilities has used PLC in Pennsylvania and, more recently, Pacific Gas & Electric selected a PLC

system for its electric AMI system for both rural and suburban areas

Fixed RF Systems

In basic fixed radio frequency (RF) systems, meters communicate over a private network using RF

signals. Each meter communicates via the network directly to a data collector or a repeater. Repeaters

may forward information from numerous endpoints to the more sophisticated devices called data


Data collectors often store the meter readings from meters within range. The data collectors then

upload the meter readings to the AMI host system at preset times using the best communication

method available, ranging from public networks to microwave to Ethernet connections. The

communications between the data collector and the network controller are usually two-way, and allow

the network controller to query for a recent meter reading and the status of one or a group of meters.

From 1994 to 1999, this type of automated meter reading system was selected for every large fixed

network deployment in the United States. 63 Since 1999, fixed RF has been selected in seven of the 12

large fixed network deployments.

More advanced RF networks have also been developed and implemented. Within these more

advanced systems, the meters themselves may form part of the network, and meters are not required to

communicate directly or indirectly with a repeater or the data collector. One example of an advanced

RF AMI network is shown below in Figure III-3. In this system, endpoints can communicate directly

with towers (similar to super data collectors) or via a ‘buddy” meter. Other advanced systems are

designed with endpoints that form a mesh network, and where some of the endpoints within the mesh

may function as data collectors and meters. The flexibility provided by advanced RF AMI systems is

generally thought to offer advantages in terms of better coverage and more robust communications.

One of the key features of the more advanced RF networks that appeal to utilities is the ability of the

network to “self heal.”64 If the endpoints have more than one communication path to the main hub of

the system, and the best path is no longer available, endpoints can change their communication path.

This is very important to utilities because changes in the service territory are ongoing. New buildings

are constructed, trees or other shrubbery are planted or grow, and other changes occur which affect RF


Major vendors of fixed RF systems include Cellnet, Elster, Hexagram, Itron, Sensus/AMDS, Silver

Spring Networks, Tantalus, and Trilliant.

63 See

Systems Utilizing Public Networks

These systems utilize existing public networks such as paging, satellite, internet and/or telephony

(cellular or landline) networks to provide for communications between meters and utilities. One key

advantage of these systems is the ability to deploy AMI across a wide area with low densities, and the

possible lower upfront cost of deployment since the utility does not need to build a private

infrastructure. Some systems rely on paging networks while others rely on cellular or landline

telephone networks. Some have used satellite communications. Three key limitations include: being

subject to the coverage provided by the public networks; changing protocols (this is especially true in

the cellular segment); and operational costs.

With AMI systems based on public networks, if there is coverage at the customer location, installation

costs are limited to installing the new endpoint, and setting up the service. Utilities are not required to

install any communication infrastructure, which can speed up the deployment process.

All of these systems have been used for larger customers and small rollouts of AMI, but recently these

systems are being considered for much larger rollouts for smaller customers.65

65 Hydro One in Ontario announced in April 2005 it had selected Rogers Wireless Inc./SmartSynch to provide

25,000 “Smart Meters” as part of a pilot program. The Smart Synch system relies on a selection of various public networks

for communications.

Meter Data Management

Meter data management provides utilities a place to store meter data collected from the field. Utilities

that install AMI usually invest in meter data management to provide storage for the large number of

meter readings that will be collected each year per meter. If utilities opt for hourly interval data, this

results in 8,760 meter readings per meter year, compared to 12 each year for a meter that is read once

per month. For a utility of even modest size, the storage requirements and data processing can become


Meter data management can also be configured to meet the specific requirements of other utility

applications. For example, with meter data management, meter data can be provided in the same

manner to all applications, or it can provide data in the exact form that each application requires. If

the utility bills residential customers on the total usage for the billing period, the meter data

management can total all of the daily reads to provide the billing system the total usage for each


READ FULL ARTICLE AT: http://www.ferc.gov/legal/staff-reports/demand-response.pdf

Man suffers third-degree burns when his iPhone spontaneously EXPLODES in his pocket (and yes, he is suing)

Man suffers third-degree burns when his iPhone spontaneously EXPLODES in his pocket (and yes, he is suing)

  • Erik Johnson spent ten days in hospital after phone melted skin
  • He said: ‘It felt like when you’re branding a bull or something like that’
  • Experts said iPhones can explode if different charger is used

A man was left with third-degree burns after his iPhone 5C spontaneously exploded in his pocket during his cousin’s wake.

Erik Johnson had to spend ten days at a specialist burns unit after the mobile melted through his trousers and stuck to his skin on Valentine’s Day. 

Mr Johnson, from Long Island, New York, said he was bending over to get keys when he heard a ‘pop’.

Scroll down for video 

Erik Johnson, from Long Island, New York, was left with third-degree burns on his upper left thigh (above) after his iPhone 5C spontaneously exploded in his pocket during his cousin's wake

Erik Johnson, from Long Island, New York, was left with third-degree burns on his upper left thigh (above) after his iPhone 5C spontaneously exploded in his pocket during his cousin’s wake

The extent of the damage to the phone (above) shows how high temperatures melted the case and warped the screen

The extent of the damage to the phone (above) shows how high temperatures melted the case and warped the screen

‘My leg just started going on fire,’ he told ABC.

‘I had to rip my pants off. A couple of people actually said they could smell my body burning.

‘It felt like when you’re branding a bull or something like that.’ 

Don’t be fooled by FCC – It is a wolf in Sheep’s clothing- Net neutrality is another word for more control over cencorship

9_10_Net_NeutralityBy Victor Thorn —

Do United States citizens want an Internet czar or a new federal agency that oversees cyberspace?

America’s Internet, one of the most astounding innovations in history, isn’t broken, yet the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) insists that its needs fixing under a vague notion called “Net Neutrality.”

Net Neutrality refers to the general concept that all content on the Internet should be treated equally when it comes to the speed at which the content loads onto a person’s computer. In practice, though, it would give government broad new powers to police and censor the world wide web and target controversial websites, like this one, under ridiculous concepts like hate speech.

Claiming that they simply want to reclassify Internet Service Providers (ISPs), FCC officials are being less than transparent in refusing to publicly release their 332-page Net Neutrality plan until after the FCC has announced new regulations. Many are reminded of Representative Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) infamous quote about Obamacare: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it.”

Some people are not concerned by the lack of detail, though they should be. On February 17, Evan Greer, campaign manager for the pro-Net Neutrality group Fight for the Future, told this reporter, “The FCC wants to reclassify the Internet to prevent cable companies from discriminating between web traffic.”

What that could mean, he said, is that billion-dollar companies would be able to cause controversial websites like the one maintained by this newspaper to load up on computers more slowly and speed up websites that are pro-government or big business.

As to whether this is a problem now, during another February 17 AFP interview, Jeremy Gillula of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) stated, “We don’t know of any ISPs right now that are interfering with customer web speed.”

Although EFF has recently changed its position on Net Neutrality, Gillula admitted: “It’s certainly possible that a future FCC could take over the Internet. If we see them leaning in that direction, we’ll certainly pounce.”

The real question is: Why not leave the Internet working the way it has been for the past two decades? Considering how vastly the scope and breadth of government has grown over the last half-century, do Americans really want that behemoth controlling what we can see on the World Wide Web?

What Net Neutrality proponents fail to disclose is that, if passed, the FCC would be granted much greater power in future Internet lawsuits. Imagine how frustrating it is to deal with your local cable company. Now magnify that by adding an immense governmental leviathan to the equation.

On February 17, billionaire businessman Mark Cuban offered a much simpler solution. Rather than surrendering Internet oversight to a group of FCC political appointees who won’t divulge the intricacies of their 332-page report, why can’t Congress merely pass a bill that outlaws ISPs from blocking or discriminating against online traffic? Problem solved.

While Net Neutrality advocates complain about corporate interests like Comcast, in a May 14, 2014 column entitled “Am I The Only Techie Against Net Neutrality?,” entrepreneur Joshua Steimle retorted:

“If monopolies are bad, why should we trust the U.S. government, the largest, most powerful monopoly in the world? Government regulations are written by large corporate interests which collude with officials in government. If Net Neutrality comes to pass, how can we trust it will not be written in a way that makes it harder for new companies to offer Internet services? If anything, we’re likely to end up even more beholden to the large telecoms than before.”

Steimle also exposed this dirty secret, revealed in Glenn Greenwald’s new book, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State. “The U.S. government tampers with Internet routers during the manufacturing process to aid it’s spying programs. Don’t be surprised if that means the government says it needs to be able to install its own hardware and software at critical points to monitor Internet traffic.”

Then, of course, there are security and surveillance fears like those posed by snooping National Security Agency officials. Writing about outspoken free speech champion Greenwald, political philosophy scholar Grant Babcock stated on November 12, 2014, “The federal government is attempting to use the Internet to build a global Panopticon capable of accessing everyone’s personal information at any time for any reason.” Worse, the government and military can’t even protect the privacy of their own social media accounts. Why should we trust them to protect our most intimate details?

Net Neutrality has nothing to do with Internet freedom. Rather, it all boils down to personal sovereignty and who controls the flow of information. The government seeks to limit gun rights. At political events like Bilderberg meetings, they corral protesters into sequestered “free speech” zones far away from the actual event. These ideas segue perfectly into how big government partisans like Hillary Clinton want to distinguish between “real” journalists (i.e., those parroting the party line, like their lapdogs in the mainstream media) and so-called “citizen” journalists. Imagine how the Clintons and their dirty tricks operators could tap an FCC stooge on the back and tell them to limit the speed of a website like AMERICAN FREE PRESS. Don’t think that could happen? Well, gaze backward a year or so ago at how Barack Hussein Obama’s inner circle in the White House urged Internal Revenue Service agents to target tea party organizations.

In all, a patriot group named Campaign for Liberty summed it up best in their warning about turning over the Internet to a “dangerous brew of wealthy, international NGOs, progressive do-gooders, corporate cronies and sympathetic political elites” who bandy about terms like “openness” and “freedom.” In actuality, Campaign for Liberty identified their real aims. “They are masters at hijacking the language of freedom and liberty to disingenuously push for more centralized control. ‘Net Neutrality’ means government acting as arbiter and enforcer of what it deems to be ‘neutral.’”

– See more at: http://americanfreepress.net/?p=22997#sthash.F3akA0wk.dpuf

– See more at: http://americanfreepress.net/?p=22997#sthash.F3akA0wk.dpuf

New Device Itemizes Energy Use, With or Without Smart Meter

Another wireless device that has the same negative effect as the smart meter.  Just another radiation pollutant that harms all living things.  America, Inc keeps adding more devices to our environment that increases further the radiation pollution we are already exposed to, without any control or a way to escape it…sandaura

New Device Itemizes Energy Use, With or Without Smart Meter

New Device Itemizes Energy Use, With or Without Smart Meter A new home energy management solution called Smappee is designed to help consumers reduce power consumption by providing a detailed accounting of where exactly the energy is being used.

Smappee’s business development manager Richard Morgan explains, “One of the first things you need is to get visibility on where the energy used is actually going. To do that in the commercial industrial sector you use submetering, which is monitoring the electrical consumption of individual equipment within a building, such as HVAC, lighting, or refrigeration. We took that concept from the industrial world brought that capability to the residential consumer.”

Smappee, which works independently of utilities, gathers real-time energy data through a single clip-on sensor that attaches to a user’s main power line, negating the need for multiple sensors.

Morgan notes, “Our device then connects the Wi-Fi in a consumer’s home and sends the data up to our cloud-based platform. So Smappee is a combo of a hardware device and a cloud-based software solution. That means that the service can be used whether or not the home has a smart meter installed.”

Through the sensor, Smappee is able to gather accurate information about where and when and how much energy is consumed.

“It works by essentially listening to the unique energy signature of the various electric appliances in the home,” he explains. “It sends that information to our cloud, which calculates how much energy was used and how much it is costing. Then the consumer can access that information on our mobile app”

According to Morgan, most utilities are still in the Dark Ages in that they give you one number or chart to cover everything, which he says just raise more questions. “Right now the smart meter roll-outs are really from the utility perspective as opposed to the consumer perspective. If you really want consumers to reduce consumption give them more information. Snappy answers those questions directly. We can show a spike in usage was caused by doing laundry and washing your dishes at the same time.”

The company also offers smart sensors that automatically turn off always-on devices and appliances once they detect the homeowner has gone to bed or has left the house. “A lot of times people don’t know where to start with energy efficiency so they start with what they can see, like lights,” Morgan observes. “But people need to start with the things that are on all the time. Smappee gives that visibility.”

Morgan says that while their service is consumer-centric, they are not averse to working with utilities in the right circumstances. “Consumers are at the heart of what we do. Having an organization that’s consumer centric means it is not always utility-centric and reducing energy usage and cost might not be in the best interest of a given utility. So from that perspective it’s better to have a direct consumer relationship. Having said that, there are a lot of utilities out there that would like to promote energy efficiency and awareness so we would partner with a company like that. As long as we keep our consumer centric mentality we’re comfortable.”