Seattle City Light achieved a significant milestone in its Advanced Metering program on May 31, 2017, with the completion of the communications network that will deliver energy usage information wirelessly from the advanced meters to the utility.
“Installation of the communications network is the first critical step for delivering Advanced Metering and the enhanced services it will eventually provide customers,” Program Manager J.R. Gonzalez said. “Completing this work keeps us on schedule to start exchanging existing meters this summer.”
Advanced Metering is a $94 million program that will upgrade the technology for about 450,000 meters in City Light’s service territory. About 7,000 meters have been installed already for new construction.
City Light’s communications network consists of 49 collectors and 340 routers that gather fully–encrypted data from those meters and deliver it to the utility.
When each group of meters is installed, connected to the communications network and activated, the utility will be able to collect energy usage information and generate customer bills without sending meter readers to customers’ homes. This will reduce about 200,000 miles of driving each year and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with those trips. It also will eliminate most instances of estimated reads that occur when a meter reader can’t access a meter for any reason, such as a locked gate or a dog in the yard.
Once the Advanced Metering system is integrated with other utility computer systems, City Light customers will benefit from automated outage reporting and eventually the ability to view their energy usage online along with what it costs.
This technology upgrade creates a platform for other possible enhanced services City Light could consider in the future, such as pre-paid accounts, billing alerts and alternate rate structure options that could help customers reduce their energy costs.