Located in Daviess County, Indiana, Washington is a small city that is poised for growth. An expansion of the heavily traveled I-69 highway has added new connections to the region between Evansville and Indianapolis, improving access to jobs, education and healthcare.
With the promise of commercial and residential growth, the city knew that its existing, aging utility infrastructure would no longer be enough to support the needs of its more than 11,000 residents.
“Our electric and water meters were old and needed replacing,” said Anita Ash, utility office manager at Washington Municipal Utilities (WMU). “We wanted to consolidate our system for reading the meters and billing our customers all onto one platform.”
The time is now
Washington’s outdated electric and water infrastructure made it difficult to track meters or monitor for issues such as water leaks and power outages. City leaders knew they needed a flexible solution that would unify water and electric metering under a single solution while seamlessly integrating with the current billing system.
Though the city’s leadership was behind the upgrade from the beginning, some of WMU’s customers first needed to see the value to them.
“The mayor was 150 percent behind the project, but some customers were concerned that their bills were going to go up,” said Ash. “But once we started on the project, and we were finding people’s water leaks, then it was like a 180-degree turn around and everyone was behind it.”
Establishing the blueprint
WMU knew that an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) solution was the right approach. Specifically, the utility was looking for a host of improvements, including:
- Manage both water and electric metering under a single system
- Integrate with current billing and accounting software
- Leverage a secure, reliable communication network for transmitting meter data
- Enable the timely delivery of data
- Allow their customers to make more informed choices on energy and water use
After visiting a neighboring utility to see their successful electric and water system deployment, WMU determined the Sensus AMI solution was the right fit.
“That’s what really sold us on it,” said Ash. “We were impressed with the smooth deployment process and how easy it was to use.”
In with the new
Working with Sensus, WMU replaced 7,500 installed electric meters with Sensus iCon A™ Generation 3 residential electricity meters and iCONAPX™ electricity meters. In conjunction with these upgrades, the utility replaced 4,500 water meters with SR II® water meters and SmartPoint® 520M pit set modules.
As part of its AMI solution, WMU deployed the Sensus FlexNet® communication network and Sensus Analytics to securely collect and transmit customer usage data for more accurate and efficient billing. With the FlexNet system, staff can monitor usage and report issues to customers in near real time.
“When a customer calls in and wants to discuss their bill, we can bring it right up and go through their usage,” said Ash. “We give them data, which gives them greater understanding. That’s really important.”
Beyond customer service, WMU keeps finding new benefits to its AMI solution.
“We had three meter readers who no longer have to go out in trucks to read them manually, and can focus on more important tasks,” said Ash. “We use the system to manage power and water remotely, which saves time and resources.”
When a customer calls in and wants to discuss their bill, we can bring it right up and go through their usage. We give them data, which gives them greater understanding. That’s really important.
Empowering customers and building for the future
With more timely and accurate data, Washington residents can make informed decisions about their own power and water consumption.
“Before we installed the new solution, some customers were worried they would pay more,” said Ash. “What we found is, the system is actually helping customers save money by identifying costly issues quickly and providing resources for them to be more educated about their usage.”Download PDF