Xcel Energy deploys Nokia private LTE for US grid modernisation

Comms tech provider’s private LTE network technologies to see use in supporting new levels of automation

As it continues to help modernise grid operations and better serve customers across the company’s eight-state service area, in addition to fulfilling its ambition to achieve a net-zero energy future by 2050, US energy provider Xcel Energy has implemented Nokia private LTE network technology, helping to support secure, reliable data connectivity and new levels of automation.

The network technologies will back a growing mix of renewable power sources for Xcel Energy and optimise the delivery of electricity to its millions of customers. The company provides the energy that powers 3.7 million electricity customers in Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North and South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin.

The firm sees itself as a leader in the transition to clean energy, and in 2018 claims to have become the first electric company in the nation to commit to 100% carbon-free electricity.

With its new network infrastructure, the utilities firm said it will be able to connect assets using industrial internet of things sensors at remote locations and “seamlessly” incorporate renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, into the energy distribution grid. It added that new levels of grid automation will allow the company to isolate and respond to outages rapidly for more reliable, efficient operations and sustainable asset utilisation.

The advanced grid will enable an enhanced user experience for Xcel Energy’s Customers, offering greater transparency and control over energy use through smart meters and online tools.

The deployment will see Nokia design and integrate the network using Xcel Energy’s choice of Anterix 900 MHz spectrum based on the Nokia Modular Private Wireless service, combined with Nokia Operational Support Systems. The offering will also use Xcel Energy’s existing high-performance Nokia IP/MPLS infrastructure.

“We know our customers rely on us to deliver clean, affordable and reliable energy,” said Xcel Energy senior vice-president and chief technology officer Tim Peterson. “As the first major US power provider to announce a plan to deliver 100% carbon free electricity to customers by 2050, the Nokia private LTE network will support us on our journey, allowing us to leverage better field communications and greater intelligence across the grid for optimised and sustainable operations.”

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Nokia’s head of enterprise for North America, Matt Young, added: “With this critical network deployment, Xcel Energy can converge multiple applications onto a single robust, reliable and secure mission-critical private LTE network for more efficient operations.

“And, as its digitisation needs evolve, the company will benefit from a wide ecosystem of compelling Industry 4.0 applications to support current and future use cases and achieve its operational, environmental, efficiency and safety goals.”

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