The Energy Cooperative is a not-for-profit utility organization with natural gas, propane and electric companies. Located in east central Ohio, the cooperative has more than 50,000 members in 10 counties and was one of the earliest adopters of Sonix™ ultrasonic gas meters from Sensus.
The Energy Cooperative has been in the gas business for more than 75 years and has a meter population that ranges from five to 50 years old.
Like all natural gas utilities, The Energy Cooperative uses rubber diaphragm meters that fill and empty a set volume of gas. While diaphragm meters have been the leading gas metrology technology for decades, new consumer demand – such as pool heaters, back-up electric generators and other natural gas devices – required the company to install larger meters at residential properties to meet high volume gas needs for relatively short periods of time.
The larger diaphragm meters worked well, but required additional modifications to the meter setting to ensure accurate low flow measurement. The Energy Cooperative needed a solution that could effectively serve fluctuating demand and accurately measure usage swings with minimal changes to the meter setting. The economic and operational benefits of ultrasonic metering technology became evident.
A long time Sensus customer, The Energy Cooperative evaluated the capabilities of Sonix meters. The company then approved and began replacing high volume diaphragm meters with Sensus Sonix 600 ultrasonic meters for residences that required increased capacity. After more than a decade, the company rates its decision as a success.
“The biggest benefit ultrasonic meters offer is that there are no moving parts, facilitating greater accuracy and lower maintenance requirements over the life of the meter,” said Dave Detty, Gas Utility Manager of The Energy Cooperative.
Sonix meters use digital ultrasonic technology to measure gas flow. In addition to eliminating mechanical parts that can wear over time, these meters are significantly smaller and lighter than their commercial counterparts. The smaller size and weight is both an aesthetic benefit to homeowners and a safety benefit to installers.
Sonix features an all-electronic design that provides extensive diagnostics, secure anti-tamper features, highly accurate temperature correction and integral pressure compensation. The meters also retain their calibration and alert the company if they are tampered with or malfunction. And Sonix’ use of electronic transducers for flow measurement allows the meter to operate in any environmental conditions without affecting its operation.
Finding Sonix to be a success for hundreds of these special-use residential customers, The Energy Cooperative began a commercial meter replacement program. The company’s commercial metering strategy includes installations of Sonix meters, including models 600, 880 and 2000, for approximately 2,000 commercial and 300 industrial customers.
As an early adopter of ultrasonic metering, The Energy Cooperative has installed a variety of Sonix models to meet a range of measurement needs. Sonix models are sized based on capacity needs and do not require rebuild of the meter set, enabling The Energy Cooperative to exchange the latest technology in place of old meters.
The Energy Cooperative continues installation of Sonix meters for commercial, residential and industrial customers and is finding additional benefits. For example, they are able to thwart theft of service. Previously, customers could tamper with the index – or simply destroy it – and their usage information would be impossible to gather for billing. With Sonix meters, The Energy Cooperative simply downloads the information to a computer and issues an accurate bill.
Sonix meters are also providing The Energy Cooperative significant improvements over diaphragm meters such as low flow detection and easier installation. Detty noted that Sonix can be installed by one person, while traditional diaphragm meters require two people for installation.
The Energy Cooperative has also selected Sensus’ FlexNet Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system and is in the process of installing the system in areas of need in its service territory, to be followed by a larger scale implementation. The company looks forward to continued benefits for its residential and commercial customer by facilitating communication between the utility and meters.
“We have been happy working with Sensus for many years,” said Dave Detty. “Their Sonix meters have proven reliable for our residential, commercial and industrial customers and improved our operational efficiency.”