Client: PHI (formerly Pepco Holding Inc., now a part of Constellation, an Exelon company)
Location: Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Washington, D.C.
The $6.5 million middle-mile broadband wireless deployment initiative was part of PHI’s smart grid distribution automation project to establish reliable communications to reclosers, metering infrastructure, capacitor banks and remote substations. This enabled wireless data access across all of PHI’s operating regions. Having private communications out to the distribution grid allowed PHI to operate control schemes reliably during storms to more quickly restore power to customers.
We provided engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services for more than 70 communication towers in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. This project’s goal was to create a strategic tower plan followed by the deployment and installation of selected equipment in licensed 220 MHz, 900 MHz, and registered 3.65 GHz wireless spectrum.
We worked with PHI to evaluate vendor solutions for field deployment for both the broadband and narrowband frequency bands. From the vendor evaluations we worked with PHI to identify vendors to begin deployment and identified new features, for both performance and security, that would be needed for the deployment. We wrote performance specifications for the new features and lab tested the new features prior to field installation of the new firmware.
Our team analyzed the existing radio frequency coverage, as well as the existing tower infrastructure, to enable tower site permitting and acquisition services. We developed a holistic tower plan and site engineering design to establish the physical configuration of the middle-mile network. Subsequently, we led application testing and deployment, managed equipment and material procurement, installed electronic equipment and antenna, and initiated tower site construction. Using the specific wireless technology, we optimized the control system communication rate out to the field devices to avoid congestion on the wireless network.
Adding to the project’s complexity was the discovery of osprey birds nesting on the existing towers. The nests had to be relocated before construction could begin but this relocation was restricted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to certain times during the year when the migratory birds are not nesting. We worked with PHI to preplan work schedules and wildlife surveys to build an efficient project schedule that optimized the construction phase while maintaining compliance.
We installed electronics at 94 sites to provide communications out to field devices across three operating companies covering three states and Washington, D.C., to increase the reliability of the distribution system.