Two StrategiesThe question is whether to own or lease,
but each route offers its own advantages.
With deregulation nipping at their heels, utilities are looking for ways to gain and maintain
customers. Aggressive utilities are seeking new customers outside of their service territories and offering competitive prices, new products, and new services. Other utilities are refocusing their efforts on marketing and, more important, customer service.
Obviously, generating revenue and saving money stand out. In that spirit, many utilities have cut costs by replacing meter-reading personnel with automated meter-reading (AMR) technologies, which offer other advantages: outage reporting, tamper detection, remote connections and disconnections, demand billing, two-way communications, time-of-use (TOU) rates, and real-time pricing (RTP). The most common form of AMR transmits information by radio frequency, and employs hand-held devices and a drive-by system known as mobile radio frequency (mobile RF). Fixed meter-reading network systems, another option, use mounted radio transmitters, which are said to improve service.
Many utilities are experimenting with the more advanced technologies, but some are only now getting their feet wet.
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