First TV white spaces smart grid trial launched


Portola, CA, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — June 25, 2010 – Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative & Telecommunications (PSREC) in partnership with software and services provider Spectrum Bridge, Inc. and Google have launched the first smart grid wireless network trial in the United States utilizing TV white spaces spectrum.

With its outstanding propagation characteristics, ability to penetrate foliage and non-line of sight connectivity, TV white spaces – the unused spaces in the spectrum used by TV broadcasters – was selected by PSREC to enable smart grid technologies to investigate more efficient ways to manage its supply and demand of electricity, improve system control and data acquisition (SCADA) with its substations, and provide broadband internet access to underserved areas.

“Plumas, Lassen and Sierra Counties are located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and present some very technical challenges with respect to wireless coverage,” commented PSREC COO Lori Rice. “The ability to use white space has proven to be an effective option for dealing with difficult terrain and offers another option for wireless connectivity.”
TV white spaces have been made available in the U.S. by the recent transition from analog to digital TV. As part of the National Broadband Plan, the FCC has declared that TV white spaces are well suited for wireless data networks and can be used to deliver cost effective broadband connectivity for a wide variety of consumer, business and government applications.

PSREC currently employs a wide variety of wireless solutions across multiple frequency bands, but still faces challenges in some areas due to the nature of the terrain. The applications deployed for the Plumas-Sierra smart grid wireless network trial deliver real time broadband connectivity to remote substations and switchgear, allowing PSREC system operators to manage the electrical system remotely, request critical data from substations, manage power flow and protect the system and employees while maintaining the local grid. The wireless network is also providing broadband access to an underserved community.

In addition, PSREC has also deployed Google’s PowerMeter technology, which works over the white spaces network to enable consumers to monitor their energy usage online from any location.

To guarantee that the TV white spaces network does not cause interference with licensed television broadcasts and other protected TV band users, the system operates under the control of an intelligent TV white spaces database from Spectrum Bridge. This database dynamically assigns non-interfering frequencies to white spaces devices, and adapts in real time to new TV broadcasts, as well as other protected TV band users operating in the area.

“The Plumas-Sierra trial is further proof that TV white spaces is a great tool to extend broadband connectivity to underserved areas and make possible applications like smart grid, in ways that couldn’t be done cost effectively before,” said Jeff Schmidt, director of engineering at Spectrum Bridge.
PSREC provides electrical power and related services to over 6,600 member/owners in Plumas, Lassen, and Sierra counties in California and portions of Washoe County in Nevada.