California city to install AMI meters in $20m network modernisation drive

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The city of Palo Alto in the US state of California is set to deploy an advanced metering infrastructure following approval by the city council.

Council members have approved a roadmap for the deployment of the $20.5 million advanced metering infrastructure for gas, water, and electric customers.

This follows a 2012 decision by the council to drop smart meter rollout due to the high costs associated with the technology at that time. However, with the continued decline in the cost of the technology over the past years and the associated benefits, the city has decided to go ahead with the rollout.

Switching to smart meters will help improve customer experiences, strengthen system reliability, enable the utilities department to operate more effectively, and will help in the meeting of environmental sustainability and resiliency goals, according to a report released by the Utilities Department.

The project is expected to run from mid-2023 through the first quarter of 2025.

Funding required for the project will be sourced from the city’s Electric Special Project reserves.

Some three smart meter manufacturers have been identified for the provision of the new infrastructure and its operation, and maintenance.

Once contracts are approved, approximately 75,000 smart gas, electric, and water meters will be installed.

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Sensus is expected to supply 27,100 smart meters whilst Aclara will provide 2,900 units to replace the existing 30,000+ analog electric meters. The units will provide remote meter readings for the utility to accurately bill customers and real-time data on consumption which the utility can use to match energy demand with generation.

This will enable the city to expand its portfolio of renewable energy and flexible energy to reduce carbon emissions and avoid the high capital costs that can be incurred in building new energy generation assets.

Customers will be able to view their energy usage via an in-home display unit to improve their energy management.

The rollout of the advanced metering infrastructure is part of the city’s efforts to create a smart grid for smart utility operations. This will encourage consumer adoption of distributed energy resources such as solar photovoltaics, energy storage, and electric vehicles.

Some 20,798 smart water meters will also be purchased from Badger Water Meters as part of the city’s Water Meter Replacement programme designed to phase out aging infrastructure with advanced equipment.

Sensus is expected to provide the communications infrastructure for smart water meters. The water meters will remotely send consumer consumption data 6 times a day to the utility for processing, a development that will help improve water billing and the detection of water leaks.

In addition, approximately 24,208 existing gas meters will be retrofitted with Sensus gas meter end-point radios.

The smart meters will be hosted on a cloud meter data management system to be provided by US-based SmartWorks.

E Source and SAP are expected to be awarded contracts for project management and system integration.