Smart Grid

February 27, 2012

NorthWestern Energy Chooses Full Spectrum's FullMAX for Smart Grid Communications

Increasingly, utilities are adopting smart grid technologies to support their customers, control costs and help lower emissions. With these digital grid control solutions designed to gather, distribute, and interpret information about the behavior of energy suppliers and consumers, utilities are better positioned to improve the efficiency, importance, reliability, economics and sustainability of energy.

This week, it was announced that Western and Midwestern U.S. electric and natural gas utility company NorthWestern Energy has chosen Full Spectrum's FullMAX (News - Alert) private, broadband, wireless communications system for some of its smart grid communication needs. NorthWestern Energy provides electricity and natural gas to 668,300 customers in 349 cities in the western two-thirds of Montana, eastern South Dakota and central Nebraska. The utility manages approximately 30,500 miles of electrical transmission and distribution lines and 9,375 miles of natural gas transmission and distribution pipelines and storage facilities.

Palo Alto (News - Alert), California-based Full Spectrum develops and manufacturers wireless communications infrastructure equipment for mission critical industries. The company's products enable the implementation of the smart grid and other intelligent networks for a variety of industries including the electric utility, oil and gas, and transportation industries as well as emergency response and homeland security networks.

According to a press release, NorthWestern will use the FullMAX broadband wireless system to communicate with intelligent network devices including capacitor bank controllers, reclosers, voltage regulators and voltage sensors distributed along remote transmission and distribution electrical lines. Real time communications and control of intelligent grid devices increase electric power quality, reliability and efficiency. NorthWestern's initial FullMAX deployment will be located in Philipsburg, Montana and is part of the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project coordinated by The Battelle Memorial Institute.

“We selected Full Spectrum (News - Alert) for its ability to implement an advanced IP network, providing private wireless data coverage over extremely large and challenging terrain,” said Vernan Hogge, Director of Telecommunications for NorthWestern Energy. “For large portions of our service territory, FullMAX is the most viable solution to meet our networking needs.” FullMAX base station radios are capable of creating wide area coverage up to 2,800 square miles from a single tower site.

“We are pleased to be working with NorthWestern Energy to meet their long term data connectivity needs,” stated Guy Simpson, Full Spectrum's Chief Operating Officer. “Their service territory is a great example of how FullMAX can extend corporate and smart grid networks to locations not served by other technologies.”

Edited by Rich Steeves