Combined Utility To Use Mobile AMR For All Meters, All Types

By the summer of 2004, the Albany, GA, Water, Gas & Light Commission will be reading all of its gas, water and electric meters via mobile automated meter reading (AMR) technology, the utility has announced.

By the summer of 2004, the Albany, GA, Water, Gas & Light Commission will be reading all of its gas, water and electric meters via mobile automated meter reading (AMR) technology, the utility has announced. Through a business arrangement facilitated by Hometown Connections, the utility will install Itron Inc.'s AMR system to download usage data to vehicle-based collection units from more than 94,000 meters.

Over the next 12 months, Albany WG&L will be converting some of its existing meters and replacing others with new units fitted with ERTs (encoder, receiver, transmitter). The utility will then read the meters from a mobile unit located in an existing utility vehicle.

John Hengesh, vice president and general manager of Itron's Water and Public Power Business Unit, said, "When the installation is complete in 2004, Albany WG&L will be among the first utilities in the United States to be using Mobile AMR for all of its gas, water and electric meters. The ability to collect data reliably and efficiently from all three meter types using the same AMR system on the same schedule is a critical capability for thousands of smaller utilities and municipalities that provide a combination of water, electric and gas service to their customers."

Itron's Mobile AMR technology uses vehicles that drive by and read ERT module-equipped meters via radio without the need for a utility employee to get out of the vehicle to enter the property to access the meter. Mobile AMR also eliminates the problem of employees transposing figures or making other data entry errors when reading meters. Albany officials recognize that Mobile AMR saves staff time and money by improving meter reading efficiency and accuracy.

"We were struggling with a high-rate of turnover among our meter reading staff, spending large amounts of time training new employees. We were also losing revenue to theft and tampering, and we were looking at ways to reduce costs across all aspects of utility operations," said Lee Hauesler, assistant general manager, Albany WG&L. "When we approached our joint action agency in Georgia, MEAG Power, about automating the meter reading process for all of our residential meters, MEAG suggested we turn to Hometown Connections and Itron."

As an official sales affiliate of Hometown Connections, Georgia's MEAG Power played a central role in helping the Albany WG&L decide to install Itron's AMR solution for all of its meters.

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