Smart Metering – a multi-utility approach


Conference: Smart Metering Canada 2007
Location: Toronto, Canada
Presenter: Jim Keech
Abstract: Presented by Jim Keech at Smart Metering Canada 2007

Utilities Kingston (UK) manages the electric infrastructure for Kingston Electricity Distribution Limited (KEDL), and the gas, water and sewer infrastructure for the City of Kingston. 

We have about 26,000 electric customers, and 11,000 gas customers located in the old City of Kingston, which existed prior to an amalgamation in 1998, and about 35,000 each of water and sewer customers located in the old City and the two former townships located to the east and the west of the old City. 

Additionally UK owns a fibre optic network which has about 200 customers.  In the former townships, Hydro One and Union Gas are the suppliers of electricity and gas. 

Since its inception UK has always strived to utilize the advantage of having the five utilities for improvements in customer service and costs savings.  Although there are many examples of this, one of the easiest for people to understand is the practice of one meter reader, and one bill for all customers.

When examining the smart meter project we looked at the possibility and the feasibility of installing not only smart electric meters as required, but also smart gas and water meters. 

After determining that it was possible, a business case was prepared along with a listing of the pros and cons of undertaking this multi-utility approach.  

Initially this looked to working with the other utility providers across the City for which there was no interest.  Although the business case was not a strong one, when we weighed in some of the other advantages we decided to proceed with a pilot. 

The major advantages were the elimination of estimates which are our number one customer complaint, and the realization that we needed to replace the existing water meters, many of which are over 20 years old. 

We also anticipated that the data that would be available from the other meters would provide similar benefits to that projected from the electric meters.  Particularly this was anticipated with the water meters where no such utilization data exists in any jurisdiction. 

Additionally we hope to re-examine our water rate structure to promote conservation and introduce rates to discourage lawn watering and possibly eliminate or reduce watering restrictions in the dry months of the year.

The pilot project is close to being completed with the installation of about 400 of each type of meter.  Installation times for the gas and water meters were longer than projected and they were found to be logistically more difficult. 

Many water meters (all inside) were difficult to get at due to finished basements and additions.  These meters required additional administration work to set up appointments as the gas meters require a relighting of appliances following completion of the change.

At this point we are anticipating proceeding with the three meters in our electric service territory. We are re-examining the business case in light of what we have learnt and are monitoring the industry for external influences.