T&D World Magazine

Itron, Honeywell to Install Automated Electricity Meters for Progress Energy

Honeywell has announced a $9.2 million contract with Itron, Inc. to provide installation services for a portion of Itron's contract with Progress Energy.

The project involves the installation of Centron solid-state electricity meters from Itron, which are equipped with automated meter reading technology. The new meters will help Progress Energy become more productive by reducing meter-reading time, improving data-recording and increasing billing accuracy. It is the largest deployment of AMR technology in North America to date, according to a Honeywell press release.

Under the contract, Honeywell is providing the work order management system to coordinate the entire project. In addition, it is handling the deployment for Progress Energy Florida, which includes installing 1.2 million meters and providing training.

The Centron meters have digital displays and can be read with radio frequency technology from Itron. Using the traditional collection method, meter readers for Progress Energy went door-to-door to gather data, but often had trouble accessing property.

With the new system, Progress Energy will use vehicles equipped with a device that collects data remotely via a secure short-wave radio signal. The utility will gather the information simply by driving past metered properties, which allows its employees to be more efficient. The new technology significantly reduces the chance for errors and improves reporting accuracy. Customers will receive fewer estimated bills as a result.

Once implemented, Progress Energy officials expect the AMR technology to cut meter-reading time substantially and enable an employee to read up to 10,000 meters each day, as opposed to 400 meters per day using the manual method. With the increased efficiency, the company plans to save $20 million in annual operating expenses and maintenance. Plus, the meters are more accurate and tamper-proof, making power theft difficult.

During installation, technicians enter metering data into hand-held devices from Honeywell, and the data is then downloaded into the work-order management system through a Nextel phone system--all in real time. The system instantly updates customer records accordingly and can track key project components, such as meter installation progress, by technician and geography.

This gives Itron and Honeywell, the immediate, up-to-date information they need to meet the two-year completion deadline. Technicians will install an average of 7000 meters each workday.

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