Is it now worth the investment to install smart meters, complete with two-way communication?
The meter has always been the "cash register" in the basic operations of the utility business...
an advanced metering platform that operates in real time as well.
Myth 3: Advanced metering only streamlines a utility's metering department.
When AMR first popped up on radar screens, utilities viewed it as a niche technology with a niche benefit: a way to cut meter-reading expenses. Unfortunately, this narrow view of AMR continues to scar its more promising offspring: advanced metering.
Advanced metering can do a lot more for utilities than just reduce meter-reading expenses. Analysts suggest that over 50 percent of advanced metering's quantifiable benefits spawn from departments other than metering, namely customer service, distribution support/engineering, finance, and marketing.
Empowered by the right advanced metering platform, customer service representatives can remotely manage move in/move outs, service connect/disconnects, and meter re-reads in real time without dispatching field visits. Without estimated meter reads, billing is more accurate, reducing the number of calls to customer service and the need for follow-up investigations. And since the vast majority of customer service calls are, in fact, bill related, it's been estimated that utilities can save up to $2.50 per customer per year from this change alone. According to several industry sources, the following numbers should be considered when calculating actual benefits from an advanced metering deployment:
15 to 25 percent of utility customers move annually; Off-cycle meter read: $10 to $20 per read; Billing adjustments: $5 to $25 per event; Generating estimate bill: $0.50 to $5 per bill; Customer service call: $1 to $10 per call; Follow-up investigation: $5 to $75 per event; Trouble ticket: $25 to $150 per event; Re-bill account: $5 to $25 per bill; and Revenue lost to float: $0.50 to $2.
If it can enable real real-time customer load information, an advanced metering platform provides the data infrastructure for real-time pricing support, and helps maximize system planning, thereby impacting distribution, substation, and transmission. Power quality and reliability also can be monitored with an advanced-metering platform, enabling proactive responses to issues before customers complain. An "always on" platform knows when connectivity is breached and helps ensure restoration crews are appropriately dispatched to problem areas.
Marketing & Sales
As a direct link to your customers and their energy consumption needs, advanced metering can help generate additional revenue. With load profiles and time-of-use data, utilities can better manage system resources and offer previously unavailable energy management data to customers.
Meter Reading and Operations
With advanced metering, the most obvious savings come from reductions in direct labor, transportation, specialized equipment, clerical support, office space, management supervision, benefits, contract meter reading, and job-related and mandated training. Huge savings follow when a utility can do remotely what used to require field support. Add to this substantial savings in communications costs and the ROI for a real-time advanced metering platform is evident.
Advanced metering is defined differently by different organizations. Don't be fooled by impostors parading as the real thing. A deficient advanced-metering system won't add up to a hill of beans.
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