Secure Meter Readings of the Next Generation of Electricity Meters

Mark Lambe

The less we spend working on the communications network, the more time we can spend working for the communities we serve.”, Billy Hamlin, System Engineer, Black River Electric Cooperative.


Secure meter readings

At Asavie, we have the great fortune of engaging with many companies who are digitally transforming their operational procedures through IoT. In the last couple of weeks, we had the pleasure of working with Black River Electric Cooperative in South Carolina.

The founding principle of the Cooperative is to provide low-cost, reliable electric service to rural South Carolina. The Cooperative now supplies 31,000+ homes with electricity and manages up to 3,400 miles of energized lines.


Digitally transforming electricity metering

In recent months, the Cooperative undertook a project to transform metering operations digitally. The aim is to manage meter reading and outages more effectively. The project saw the upgrade of existing meters to the next generation of connected meters. A further complication was the rural nature of the electricity grid, which resulted in cellular being the primary connectivity choice. Ultimately, the Cooperative required a way to secure digital metering over cellular.


Taking electricity metering off the public internet

A vital aspect of any cellular IoT connected device is to assure protection from cyberthreats. The very nature of metering makes it a highly sought-after target for hackers. With that in mind, Black River Electric Coop knew from an early stage that the metering devices should not connect to the public internet.

The Cooperative chose Verizon Wireless and Asavie SD IoT to take the electricity meters off the public internet. Using the Verizon Wireless network, the Cooperative got access to a self-serve private mobile network with Asavie SD IoT. The joint solution results in a secure end-to-end network with no exposure to the public internet.


Lowering operational and security costs

To reduce the operational cost of maintaining the meters, the Cooperative required secure remote access to manage the meters. Thus, helping to reduce the number of truck rolls to each remote site.

Using the Asavie SD-IoT web portal, the Cooperative IT team grouped meters into unique network segments, including the assignment of a private static IP address to each digital meter. Via the Asavie SD IoT portal, the Cooperative IT team allocated a Network Connector or software agent to each district’s administrative team, allowing for self-management of meter data collection and maintenance.

Segmentation of meters into unique networks ensures that in the event of a compromise of a back-end system, that the entire meter estate is not exposed to threats. Furthermore, the standard access lists rules in Asavie SD IoT allows the Cooperative IT team to manage the time of day access, so that meters can only be accessed during scheduled times, further mitigating the risk of unnecessary security exposure.


Winning with private mobile network slices

The ability to slice the mobile network into multiple network segments on-demand, not only aids greater security but dramatically simplifies the deployment and management of a large IoT estate. With Asavie SD IoT, the Black River Electric Cooperative are able to derive secure meter readings that allows them to focus on their core business, delivering reliable electric services to the Cooperative’s members.


To learn more:

You can read the Black River Electric Cooperative use case here:
Case Study: Black River Electric Cooperative SD IoT case study.

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