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New utility meters slated for area customers

By Blair Yankey - byankey@perutribune.com

Peru Utilities Customers will soon see their electric and water meters switched out, allowing them access to data that can show power outages and water leaks.

In a 7-0 vote, the Peru City Council last week approved the utilities request to install Sensus advance metering. The system provides utility companies with real-time power consumption data and allows customers to make informed choices about energy usage based on the present price.

Installation is scheduled to start during the last quarter of 2017, with most of the work taking place during the first quarter of 2018.

A Technology and Communications Committee, which was assembled by Peru Utilities General Manager Joe Pandy last year, looked into six or seven different products in their quest to find upgrades for the company’s meter systems.

However, Sensus Advanced Metering Infrastructure stood out above the rest.

“Our team feels that the AMI is the future,” team leader Nan Orpurt told the Utilities Board on June 21. “We recommend Sensus because we feel that the system will give both electric and water the means to increase meter reading efficiency, reduce overhead cost and enhance customer service. We are very excited about the Sensus AMI system.”

Project Manager Josh Chance told the council that the system will allow customers to instantly see what’s going on with their meters rather than waiting 35 to 45 days. “We want to make sure our customers can see what’s going on,” he said.

Customer service reps would also have the ability to pull up data about a customer’s water use during phone calls to provide accurate up-to-date assistance.

AMI has been around for about a decade and follows the “Automatic Meter Reading System.” AMI differs from AMR in that it enables two-way communications with the meter from a network remotely.

Peru has some AMRs, but most of the city’s current meters are older models, with some dating as far back as 1915.

Chance said in previous reports that the new recommended water meters are supposed to be 100 percent accurate and shouldn’t slow down with age.

Many of the company’s meters in the field can’t be tested due to changes in law that requires them to be disposed of once they are taken out. “We haven’t tested them recently,” Chance said. “They should be on a 10-year testing cycle – that was 20 years ago.”

The new water meters also constantly monitor leaks, tampering and reverse flows. This could prove beneficial, for example, if a ratepayer is away on vacation and a leak takes place. Peru Utilities would receive a notice of the leak and could then notify the customer, Pandy said.

Sensus’ yearly cost for lease and purchase over 10 years will be approximately $522,574 per year,” Pandy said. This includes the cost of installation and all meters, which is done by Sensus affiliate Utility Metering Solutions. The installation costs included in the lease purchase financing are $914,093 and comes with a 20-year guarantee.

It will be funded by increased efficiencies in the system such as more accurate meters (estimated 10-percent water and 1.5-percent electric), fewer service calls due to automatic disconnect and reconnect capabilities, and reducing water loss which reduces water treatment costs, Chance said.