AMI Procurement and Smart Metering Implementation Project

Business Challenge

North Little Rock Electric Department (NLR) provides electricity to over 60,000 people in the City of North Little Rock, Arkansas and surrounding area. To realize operational efficiencies, the company planned to introduce smart meters, and had been working with a consultant to develop and release an RFP for an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) system. Through this process, the utility identified that in order to guarantee an AMI solution that best fit NLR’s requirements, NLR would need to secure a consulting company that demonstrated a comprehensive knowledge of smart grid.

Upon meeting with Util-Assist consultants, NLR was immediately impressed with their ability to add value through a solid understanding of smart grid requirements as well as their extensive AMI procurement experience. Util-Assist was brought on board to lead the AMI project through the next stages of procurement, including providing expert advice in the selection of a vendor.

Util-Assist’s Role

Although Util-Assist’s initial role was to assist in AMI procurement, including vendor selection and contract negotiation, Util-Assist guided NLR through the entire smart metering transition. To ensure a smooth process, subject matter experts conducted a thorough review of NLR business processes, and held workshops to develop new smart metering processes and provide employee training.

In-depth knowledge also enabled Util-Assist to guide the selection of a meter data management (MDM) system to provide meter data storage and perform data analysis. Util-Assist helped to configure both the AMI and MDM systems and is assisting in the management of all vendors (AMI, MDM, installation contractor) through the mass rollout of the smart metering project.

Project Results

The NLR smart metering goals are currently being realized, and according to Mike Russ, General Manager of NLR, much of this success can be attributed to Util-Assist: “I don’t see how any utility could manage an advanced meter rollout without a partner like Util-Assist to provide guidance and expertise. Util-Assist’s help proved invaluable as we transformed our system to smart grid operations.”

Util-Assist provided added value by outlining specific system and integration requirements that would prove key to the project. The consultants also alerted NLR to system efficiencies that might not otherwise have been identified. According to Russ, “Not only did Util-Assist enable our engineers to be more productive and precise, but their knowledgeable consultants provided support for every step in the process—from expertly managing City Council expectations, to offering valuable insights on how to communicate complex technology to our customers.”