Austin, TX, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — November 24, 2008 – Austin Energy plans to expand its automated meter reading services to include two-way capability for its full customer base.

Under amendments approved by Austin City Council to Austin Energy’s $36 million, 15-year contract with Austin-based Cellnet Technology, the company is able expand two-way meter reading services to its meter base at an average annual amount of $4.9 million not to exceed $40.35 million, for a total contract amount not to exceed $76.35 million over the contract’s fifteen-year term.

Austin Energy currently has one-way automated read capability for approximately one-third of its customers. Expanding to full two-way coverage will allow the company to offer additional services and benefits to its customers, possibly implement a time-of-use rate structure, and implement other capabilities in furtherance of achieving a “smart grid” and its goals for energy efficiency and peak load reduction, according to the recommendation for council action.

The contract was originally approved in 2002 for one-way meter reading services, 60,000 new meters and 63,000 radio units for existing meters. About 80,000 additional meters have been installed under separate contracts.

The two-way technology is currently undergoing beta-testing prior to full implementation of the project. Some two-way residential meters are now being used for billing where installed and demand meter billing tests are underway.

Under the contract, Cellnet is responsible for the expansion and upgrade of the meter reading infrastructure to enable two-way reads for the entire system, providing the communications modules for the meters, and performing the meter-reading services. Austin Energy assumed the task of acquiring the new meters to be used in the expansion project.