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Automated Meter Reading: Two Companies, Two Strategies

Fortnightly Magazine - September 1 1996

the information. They maintain ownership of the customer data and the meters," says Rachel Silber, marketing communications program manager for CellNet.

UE and partner CellNet have no plans to use a wire system any time in the near future. "The same services can be provided through any medium, but right now a wireless system makes utilities competitively stronger," says Silber. While CellNet expects to incorporate new technology for the utilities it services, the company is not "looking to be all things to all people."

SCE&G currently uses a fixed-network system located at its company headquarters. The utility favors a fixed network because it is competitively priced, provides a consistent path to the customer, and can be implemented where no telephone coverage exists. In addition, Kirby cites enhanced revenues and improved customer service.

When asked about the financial risk involved in purchasing the meters (about $100 each) and other additional equipment, Kirby countered: "With the benefits [of AMR], we can calculate almost 100 percent of the offsetting expenses. There are enough savings from AMR to cover investment costs." t

Rashida Syed, a senior and major in English literature at Howard University in Washington, DC, recently completed a three-month stint as a summer intern at PUBLIC UTILITIES FORTNIGHTLY.

Water Meters

AMR Goes Underground

Automated meter reading (AMR) has reached a new level with Itron's wireless ERT (encorder, receiver, transmitter) 40W/Pit Enclosure, a module that accurately reads outdoor, underground meters. The module (em compatible with Badger Meter, Inc.'s Record-all meters as well as the Mueller/Hersey Co. line (em may be read by Itron's offsite meter reading, drive-by mobile AMR, and fixed network AMR systems.

Gas Metering Hits the Real Time

The Gas Research Institute (GRI) (em in conjunction with AMETEK, Inc. and several other partners (em is developing a low-cost, gas energy-content meter that uses real-time energy measurement (RTEM) technology. The microprocessor-based microcalor-imeter determines the energy content of natural gas by measuring the energy released when a precise volume of sample gas is burned in the presence of a catalyst gas.

GRI says the meter will provide local distribution companies with real-time data on energy value, Btu consumption rates, and total energy consumption (em enabling greater precision in customer metering, transportation custody transfer, and quality monitoring and assurance.

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