City to modernize meter reading process

Itron Inc. announced that the City of Duluth, the largest municipal utility in Minnesota, has signed a contract for deployment of Itron's mobile automated meter reading (AMR) system to over 53,000 water and gas meters. The solution will not only reduce the costly process of reading its meters, but also provide the utility with better business data and improved customer service tools...

• Mobile AMR solution improves customer focus, bottom line for city of Duluth

LIBERTY LAKE, WA, Oct. 24, 2008 -- Itron Inc. announced that the City of Duluth, the largest municipal utility in Minnesota, has signed a contract for deployment of Itron's mobile automated meter reading (AMR) system to over 53,000 water and gas meters. The solution will not only reduce the costly process of reading its meters, but also provide the utility with better business data and improved customer service tools.

"We see AMR as more than just meter reading," said Bernie Zylka, City of Duluth meter services supervisor. "Itron supports this vision with an AMR solution that provides many benefits beyond automation, helping us prepare for future growth and technological innovations. It is also a great benefit that the Itron system is able to read both our water and gas meters in a single pass."

Data gathering, reliability and accuracy will all improve with deployment of Itron's mobile AMR system. Duluth expects the system to reduce its number of monthly re-reads, minimize in-the-field high/low readings, and decrease move-in and -out reads. This should also lessen its application work orders and improve customer service and revenue protection.

"By choosing Itron for its automation solution, the City of Duluth joins a number of utilities that have discovered the financial, operational and customer service benefits of our industry-leading technology," said Lou Gust, Itron vice president of water sales. "We look forward to watching this utility move forward with this more efficient method of operation and provide even greater benefit to its citizens."

Itron mobile AMR systems, key to the ChoiceConnect™ AMR data collection suite, use a vehicle equipped with a portable radio transceiver and computer to gather consumption and tamper data from electricity, gas and water radio-based endpoints.

Approximately 28,500 water endpoints will be automated utilizing Itron's 60WP Water ERT® Modules, delivering superior accuracy and reliability, leak and tamper detection, high output power, advanced antenna design, and an industry-leading battery life. An additional 24,500 natural gas meters will be upgraded with 100G Gas ERT Modules from Itron, offering advanced output power and programmable operating modes. Installation is slated for completion in April 2009. The contract for the AMR upgrade was awarded to Johnson Controls, working in conjunction with the local Itron distributor, Dakota Supply Group. Johnson Controls and the City of Duluth selected Itron for the project due to its products' outstanding history and ease of application.

Itron Inc. is a leading technology provider to the global energy and water industries.

The Public Works and Utilities department was created by the City of Duluth in 1999 when the Public Works and Water and Gas departments were merged to increase operational efficiency and reduce costs. The City entered into the utility business in 1898 when it purchased the Duluth Gas and Water Company. The original $1.25 million purchase was driven by the desire to revamp the water supply in the City to eliminate water-borne illness, an important result was an entrance into the gas business.

Johnson Controls is a global leader that brings ingenuity to the places where people live, work and travel.

Dakota Supply Group (DSG) Metering Technology offers comprehensive metering system solutions for municipal electric, gas, water and wastewater utility markets (as well as industrial flow markets) throughout the Midwest.

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