Evergy (NYSE: EVRG), Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC, news, filings) and Burns & McDonnell have launched a new private LTE (PLTE) core and radio access network (RAN) to help enable grid modernization efforts at Evergy, a U.S. investor-owned utility, in record time. The project created one unified network capable of supporting an array of both known and future-focused use cases to modernize the grid, increasing reliability and safety while decreasing latency for mission-critical applications.
Headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, and Topeka, Kansas, Evergy awarded the project to Ericsson in March 2022 with 20 PLTE sites planned in the initial deployment for 2022 to support a smart grid. With the first of these originally set to be completed by October 2022, Evergy expedited the cell site build plan and launched the first site in May 2022, in less than two months from the project award.
“Early in 2021, we identified several use cases that would result in better resiliency and efficiency for Evergy customers. By building a private LTE network we have a more secure and reliable means of transmitting grid data into our back-office systems for processing. Burns & McDonald has been heavily involved from the initial design work and Ericsson has been a critical partner in the deployment of their RAN technology,” said Gary Johnson. Sr. Director of IT infrastructure and Security for Evergy.
“We’ve commercially deployed and operated secure mission-critical network solutions for both investor-owned utilities and rural municipal utilities across North America,” said Per Wahlen, Vice President and Head of Business Development at Ericsson North America. “Evergy in partnership with Burns & McDonnell chose Ericsson not only for our ability to deliver against aggressive timelines but for our technology leadership, meeting capital efficiency KPIs, and focus on security and safety.”
For the project, Evergy leveraged experienced utility telecommunications consultant Burns & McDonnell to assist with designing the private network and support the build-out management. Evergy is deploying Ericsson’s cloud-native dual-mode 5G Core and private RAN network, which supports both LTE and 5G, allowing for a smooth transition to future 5G services. In addition, through a wide portfolio of additional operational and business support services as well as managed services provision, Ericsson is fully supporting Evergy’s ability to rapidly expand the use of PLTE to enable smart grid applications.
“The close collaboration among all parties is what made it possible to complete this project so quickly,” said Matt Olson, Vice President at Burns & McDonnell. “We all came together with creative ideas to strengthen the entire effort, giving Evergy a vital, powerful network that will help its communities for years to come.”
By investing in grid modernization and rapidly deploying PLTE, Evergy is now better equipped to deliver reliable power to customers and fulfill the potential of its strategic Sustainability Transformation Plan for its customers and stakeholders. The new PLTE network will support a variety of utility use cases, including accelerating decarbonization of the grid, engineering access, fault circuit indicators, line regulators and advanced metering infrastructure solutions.