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Tullahoma Rolls Out Smart Meters Using Public Network
Last winter, we reported on Tullahoma, Tennessee's plans to use their fiber optic network for an Automatic Metering Information system (AMI). At the time, city leaders had just started a series of informational meetings for customers. Tullahoma Utilities Board (TUB) technicians are now in the process of installing the new meters in the full service area and expect to complete the project by April, 2013.
Brian Justice of the Tullahoma News, reported:
Brian Skelton, TUB general manager, said Wednesday the results have proven to be very effective, and now the utility is spreading out to install 10,500 electric meters and 9,500 water meters that electronically read and provide TUB with the usage information.
In addition to reading electric and water meters automatically, the system will be used for a number of other tasks to reduce peak electric demand and take advantage of TVA’s new wholesale rate plan.
As we reported earlier, utility managers decided to pursue the new system when the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) announced it would change to a "time of use" pricing structure. Because rates will be higher at peak times, the TUB want to give customers the chance to manage their utility costs.
Brian Coate, manager of the electric and fiber departments, told Justice:
“Automated metering will not only reduce personnel costs, but also provide better information on leak detection, outage management, and theft of service,” he said. “The system will also have a server and data portal where customers can examine their time of use habits and have more control over their bill.”
The new meters contain a radio transmitter that sends usage data to a collector secured on a utility pole. The information is then transferred to the TUB via the fiber optic network.
Electric usage will be monitored hourly while water usage info will be available on a daily basis. Customers will also be able to determine if there are any water leaks based on the results. Residents will be able to monitor their usage via a computer or smart phone.
A small number of customers expressed concern over the privacy of their data and opting out is an option. A Tullahoma News article by Andrea Agardy notes that opting out will cost $50 each month. Because the number of customers opting out is so low, the TUB will revisit the opt out program in the future and may discontinue it.
Read the frequently asked questions here [pdf].