Miss. firm signs deal with Mich. energy provider

By The Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Jackson, Miss., company has been awarded a contract to provide its SmartMeters to 1.8 million customers of a Michigan utility company.

In a deal announced Monday, Consumers Energy, headquartered in Jackson, Mich., says SmartSynch will begin installing the meters in August 2012.

The deal created a few dozen jobs in Jackson, said SmartSynch chief marketing officer Campbell McCool. He said the firm will add more than 100 jobs over the next five years.

Using cellular networks, SmartSynch creates a two-way wireless communications system that provides customers detailed information about their energy usage. While traditional meters only measure energy consumption, SmartMeters can track individual appliances to pinpoint which one uses the most electricity.

In addition, SmartMeters automatically send readings to the utility provider, meaning the company will not need a meter reader to collect data.

John Russell, the president/chief executive officer of Consumers Energy, said in a statement that the decision to utilize existing cellular networks for large-scale, high performance smart grid communications, instead of building and maintaining a private network, comes after extensive research and testing of available industry solutions.

Russell said it makes Consumers Energy, which serves more than two-thirds of Michigan across a 32,000-square-mile service territory, the largest U.S. utility to choose a cellular-based communication system.

Details of the contract were not disclosed.

Meter installation will be conducted in phases through 2019.