A pilot program employing WiMax 4G communications and GE smart meters has worked to allow Consumers Energy's Michigan customers to demonstrate how real-time, wireless communications between meters in the home and the utility's network management and control systems can improve efficiency and reliability.
The Michigan pilot is the latest step in GE Energy's smart grid development program. GE has collaborated with a number of utilities around the world, including Consumers Energy and American Electric Power (AEP) in the United States, to fine-tune smart meter capabilities using this technology.
"This infrastructure solution could be significant in its ability to provide far more real-time information and updates to distributed intelligent metering devices over utility equipment lifespans," Wayne Longcore, director of Enterprise Architecture and Standards for Consumers Energy, said in a statement.
The Federal Communications Commission issued a March 17 National Broadband Plan, which recognized a clear need for improving the communications infrastructure to modernize the electric grid. GE's pilot falls directly in line with the plan's call for a clearly defined reliable and integrated infrastructure to strengthen America's energy future and enable the promise of the smart grid to become reality.
"This pilot helps Consumers Energy evaluate the immediate benefits of smart metering, while providing the company with a powerful platform to adopt additional smart grid technologies to further increase energy efficiency, improve reliability, empower consumers with information and more easily integrate cleaner energy sources," said Bob Gilligan, vice president of digital energy for GE Energy Services. "Deploying better ways to move information is key to finding smarter, more efficient and more reliable ways to move electricity."