City's wireless AMR network reduces costs, improves customer service

Anderson, Indiana's city-owned Municipal Light and Power Utility and Tropos Networks announced that Anderson's AMR wireless network for monitoring water and electricity usage is significantly reducing the costs caused by the inaccuracies of manual meter reading and improving overall customer satisfaction. The city expects a net savings of $18.7 million over a 15-year period. Additional benefits are vastly improved meter reading and billing accuracy and mmediate electric outage detection...

• City forecasts net savings of $18.7 million over 15 years

ANDERSON, IN, March 5, 2008 -- Anderson, Indiana's city-owned Municipal Light and Power Utility and Tropos® Networks, the market leader in wireless IP broadband mesh networks, today announced that Anderson's automated meter reading (AMR) wireless network for monitoring water and electricity usage is significantly reducing the costs caused by the inaccuracies of manual meter reading and improving overall customer satisfaction.

The city expects a net savings of $18.7 million over a 15-year period. Additional benefits are vastly improved meter reading and billing accuracy, immediate electric outage detection enabling pinpointing of affected areas, and more efficient restoration service.

"We decided to implement a wireless AMR solution to eliminate the inaccuracies and lost costs of manual meter reading," said Darren Grile, network administrator for Anderson Municipal Light and Power which currently owns, builds and runs the network for the city. "We began to see almost immediate financial benefits as soon as we replaced the meters and also tremendously improved our customer service."

City Takes Action To Automate Utility Meter Reading Infrastructure
Three years ago, the city decided to automate the electric and water meter reading system to solve the problems caused by checking and reporting power meters by hand. Customers were enduring the inaccuracies of estimated billing when inclement weather, pets, or locked gates prevented meter readers from getting access to meters -- in one month, 15 percent of the utility bills were estimated rather than actual. Some customers were unpleasantly surprised when the corrected bill arrived -- and complained to the mayor or city council.

In addition, like all utility providers, Anderson's depended on customers to report when there was a problem with a service caused by ice storms or high winds. Because the utility relied upon customers to report problems, response for repairs was not optimal.

The State of Indiana recently enabled a new funding method that supports municipal utility conservation programs, and Anderson was selected to participate. The program provided the money for automated water and electrical meters, and for the network to link them together.

Tropos Wireless Network and Aclara System Deployed
Anderson selected an AMR solution from Aclara. The system was deployed using small meter transmission units (MTUs) that are integrated into both the electric and water meters. The MTUs read the meter and forward the data wirelessly through a Tropos network to a data collection unit (DCU) backhauled into the city's fiber optic network, providing access to the central office's back end system. The AMR system provides the central office with real-time status on power and water usage for each customer. The AMR system also has the ability to detect water leaks, so repairs can be made quickly, reducing waste and other potential problems.

"We looked at a number of wireless router providers," said Grile. "Ultimately, we chose Tropos Networks' solution because it is the proven market leading platform that provides the best price for performance. In fact, the wireless portion of the network cost us less than what we originally anticipated."

"Anderson's decision to automate utility meter reading provides great immediate value to the city and customers and over time, significant cost savings," said Tom Ayers, president and CEO of Tropos Networks. "It's a powerful example of the benefits that municipalities and their constituencies receive by building, operating and owning their own infrastructure and a lesson for other cities grappling with significant utility operating issues related to resource conservation, expense control and meter reading accuracy. We are pleased that Tropos has been selected as part of the solution by providing the affordability and reliability that is required."

Tropos® Networks is a market leader in wireless IP broadband mesh networks.

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