Rio Grande Electric Cooperative (RGEC) in Brackettville, Texas, provides electric service to over 10,000 metering points across Texas and New Mexico. Traditionally, the company's commitment to providing a reliable source of power across 27,000-square-miles of barren terrain has presented some interesting challenges; just to check and service remote substations, maintenance crews routinely faced driving times of up to seven hours each way. So when RGEC's Technical Services department considered upgrades to the co-op's electrical metering equipment, the question of communications was paramount. Here was an opportunity to monitor the status of the entire distribution network, while reducing the amount of time technicians must spend on the road - but how could they communicate with remote substations where telephone coverage was sparse, and cellular networks practically nonexistent? As part of a planned upgrade to a full PowerLogic® ION® system from Square D®/Schneider Electric, RGEC identified satellite communications as the answer. Combining reasonable costs with unlimited flexibility, satellite stood out as the most cost-effective way to support reliable communications between the energy-management software installed at the headquarters, and the network of intelligent energy meters destined for the remote substations.
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