RALEIGH, NC, Mar. 22, 2012 -- The City of Barrie, Ontario, is saving $600,000 to $1 million annually since launching its smart grid for water project which involved installing the Sensus FlexNet™ fixed-base wireless communications system and equipping all of its 42,000 residential water meters and 2,500 commercial and industrial water meters with radio transmitters.
"Since the Ontario government mandated electric utilities to adopt smart meters, ideas about better approaches to water metering were also circulating," said John Thompson, P.Eng., Director of Environmental Services for the City of Barrie. "An intensive effort by the City of Barrie concluded that the best solution to help the City reduce costs and improve the accuracy of billing for water/wastewater services was a fixed-base wireless meter reading system communicating through a dedicated radio frequency."
Barrie built a business case anticipating a full return on investment in the Sensus FlexNet system of two to three years based solely on the benefits of reducing third-party meter reading costs compared to the projected costs of assigning city staff to manage walk-by/drive-by systems. The City anticipates a projected savings of approximately $20 million in 20 years.
"Sensus is a strong partner for Barrie, not only because of our proven success with hundreds of smart grid deployments across the electric, gas and water industries, but because our communications technology provides a guaranteed, clear-channel frequency," said Doug McCall, Director of Marketing for Sensus. "This dedicated frequency was important to the City as it gave the utility greater control and security of the network and enabled them to ensure continuity of communications without interference."
The utility is passing on the benefits of increased intelligence to its conservation-minded customers. A recent utility study found that Barrie citizens use about 75 percent of average daily water usage of the average Canadian. The City created an online portal where citizens can access their own usage data. That portal was accessed by more than half of all Barrie's citizens within its first six weeks, and calls to the customer service center regarding billing questions are decreasing as a result of shared information and speedy leak detection capabilities.
"This program is about working smarter to conserve water, operate efficiently, and empower our customers to be accountable for their own water usage," said Thompson.
Barrie has been recognized on a global scale for their smart grid for water project, as they were recently awarded the Metering International Excellence award for the Smart Utility of the Year. Barrie's Environmental Services Department, Water Operation's Branch (WOB) also recently won first place in the inaugural Canadian Water Works Association Utility Excellence Awards in the category of "Risk Taking - Implementation of Innovative Technologies," in the medium utilities category. In the future, Barrie plans to extend the project through pilot programs that use the system for alerts regarding backflow events.
Sensus is a leading utility infrastructure company offering smart meters, communication systems, software and services for the electric, gas, and water industries. Sensus technology helps utilities drive operational efficiency and customer engagement with applications that include advanced meter reading, data acquisition, demand response, distribution automation, home area networking and outdoor lighting control. Customers worldwide trust the innovation, quality and reliability of Sensus solutions for the intelligent use and conservation of energy and water. Learn more at www.sensus.com.
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