energycioinsights

Aclara: Next-generation Solution for Smart Grid Distribution

CIO VendorAllan Connolly, President & CEO
During his entrepreneurial journey in the fast-growing Industrial Water Treatment business, Allan Connolly, President and CEO of Aclara acknowledges that distribution engineers in the sector are often faced with the challenging task of identifying cost-effective solutions to monitor their distribution and traditional meter-reading networks. To address these challenges, Connolly established Aclara as a stand-alone, privately-held company and supplier of Smart Infrastructure Solutions (SIS) that perform automated metering and reading—by incorporating a range of sensors, communications, and analytic technologies. This smart infrastructure technology lets utilities monitor their distribution networks, optimize operations, respond to issues quickly, and preempt problems.

According to Connolly, reliability starts with better visibility into the distribution network. With Aclara Grid Distribution Monitoring platform, engineers can detect faults and location, monitor power quality and classify of grid events to make informed decisions and deliver power reliably to their customers. The robust platform comprises of Smart Grid Sensors and a Sensor Management System (SMS) with the real-time actionable intelligence for distributor engineers to monitor and optimize power conditions and improve reliability.

Aclara’s Smart Grid Sensors allow engineers to gain visibility into their distribution grid down to 3 amps and are inductively powered—maintenance-free to last up to five times longer than battery-powered alternatives. Theses sensors also alarms about grid conditions back to the Aclara SMS software that classifies power disturbance events and provides the visualization and situational awareness needed to quickly respond to load planning, outages, and power quality challenges.

Additionally, cutting-edge predictive grid analytics software with SMS gives engineers detailed knowledge about the health of their distribution network and manages big data the right way possible.

Our sensors track and report the proper phase of each sensor to resolve inaccuracies and maintain up-to-date, accurate network and load models


With flexible communications options (Wi-Fi and cellular), real-time grid intelligence and flexible architecture, the solution easily integrates with Data Historians, SCADA, OMS or DMS system to provide distributed engineers real-time data about grid conditions. Also, with an easy-to-use software management tool, SMS is designed to simplify remote management and configuration of sensors.

The firm’s Power Sensors are designed to be an affordable turnkey solution. Aclara’s cellular Power Sensors include 3G communications for high-speed real-time reporting of events and data. These sensors support easy integration with public and private IP-based networks via Aggregators or third party communications nodes and can be quickly installed, automatically powered up, connected to the network and back office. Aclara also offers Auto- Phase ID to users to have accurate phase identification throughout their feeders and single-phase laterals. “Our sensors track and report the proper phase of each sensor to resolve inaccuracies and maintain up-to-date, accurate network and load models,” asserts Connolly. Over 700 utilities in nine countries rely on proven Aclara solutions to connect with their customers.

"Our recent acquisitions, coupled with our own developments, are helping utilities address challenges and open the door to new opportunities in the distribution grid. Our recent acquisitions with GE Meters, Smart Grid Solutions and Tollgrade Communications represent an important step ahead for Aclara as a leader in smart infrastructure today,” asserts Connolly.

Aclara is expanding its services as the utility industry looks for more innovative ways to measure and control their distribution systems. “As we look to the future we are looking forward to serving our utility customers effectively for many years to come. We have got a detailed strategic plan, to convert Aclara from an AMI business to rapidly expand both the market sectors we play in today, by broadening the product solutions we offer to utilities,” concludes Connolly.