Known as the “sunniest city in Canada,” high temperatures this time of year for the 63,000 residents of Medicine Hat in Alberta, Canada, average 30 degrees Fahrenheit. For the local utility, that means taking extra care to ensure service for its electric, gas and water customers. It also means enacting measures to keep meter technicians from taking unnecessary risks during the region’s snowy months.
A long-time customer of Sensus, a Xylem brand, the city decided to upgrade its electric metering system to reduce the number of truck rolls and get better reads on energy use.
Change on the horizon
Working with local regulatory authorities, the City of Medicine Hat created an arrears management program to help customers limit their power usage to avoid high bills. As part of the program, the city monitors usage from October 15 to April 15 while deploying special limiters within the electricity meters to lower power when the usage gets too high.
“Limiters allow us to continue service to customers or residences,” said City of Medicine Hat Electric Metering Foreman Barry Diakow. “We want to help every customer keep the heat on.”
The city previously deployed manual limiters. Technicians would visit a property each time the limiter needed to be activated or adjusted. This manual process was time-consuming for staff and posed safety challenges.
“Crews are exposed to the elements when they’re out in the field,” said Diakow. “Snow and ice during the winter can make the roads and sidewalks slippery, so it’s something we want to avoid as much as possible.”
The city decided it was time to upgrade its electric metering system to reduce the number of truck rolls and get better reads on energy use.
Time to go remote
As a long-time Sensus customer across electricity, gas and water services, Medicine Hat chose to implement the Sensus AMI solution with Sensus iConA™ Gen 4 electricity meters running on the FlexNet® communication network. Now, Diakow and his team rely on the remote disconnect with enhanced load limiting functionality built into the meters to automate the limiting process. Both customers and city staff find the automated process more convenient.
We eliminated 40 truck rolls within the first month of deployment, so the system quickly gave us a payback.
— Barry Diakow, Electric Metering Foreman, The City of Medicine Hat Electric Utility
“It used to be that when the limiter would trip, the customer would have to go outside to reset it after shutting off certain things in the house,” said Diakow.
The utility began rolling out its AMI solution, including more than 8,000 iConA meters, and saw instant improvement in terms of time and money saved.
“We eliminated 40 truck rolls within the first month of deployment, so the system quickly gave us a payback,” said Diakow.
A lasting impact
Medicine Hat’s solution has also given the utility the opportunity to improve communication with their customers.
“When a customer calls to ask about what’s going on with their limiter, we can look at the incoming data and know exactly what’s happening,” said Diakow. “We can tell them what they need to do to get their service working properly. This solution has definitely helped improve our customer relationships.”
The utility is also expanding customer education and updating its website with useful resources that enable better insight into their energy usage. Looking ahead, they plan to deploy the Sensus Stratus® electricity meter to gain a more robust set of data.
“We’re always looking to improve and glean better insights, and we’re excited to get the Stratus meters deployed in the field,” said Diakow. “With more information and more analytics, we’ll be able to make better decisions for our customers.”
Upgrade metering infrastructure to support arrears management program
Sensus AMI solution with FlexNet® communication network and iCon™ electricity meters
Educate customers about their energy usage