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Canadian Utility Upgrades Metering System

City of Medicine Hat, Alberta relies on data to improve customer satisfaction

Known as the “sunniest city in Canada,” high temperatures this time of year for the 63,000 residents of Medicine Hat, Alberta, average 30 degrees Fahrenheit. For the local utility, that means taking extra care to ensure service for its electric, gas and water customers.

A long-time customer of Sensus, a Xylem brand, the city decided to upgrade its electric metering system to reduce the number of truck rolls and get better reads on energy use.

Medicine Hat chose to implement the Sensus AMI solution with Sensus iConA Gen 4 electricity meters running on the FlexNet communication network. The city also worked with local regulatory authorities to create an arrears management program to help customers limit their power usage to avoid high bills. Special limiters within the electricity meters were deployed to implement the program. Previously, the city used manual limiters, which required technicians to visit a property each time it needed to be activated or adjusted. This manual process was time-consuming for staff and posed safety challenges.

“Crews are exposed to the elements when they’re out in the field,” said City of Medicine Hat Electric Metering Foreman Barry Diakow. “Snow and ice during the winter can make the roads and sidewalks slippery, so it’s something we want to avoid as much as possible.”

Now, Diakow and his team rely on the remote disconnect with enhanced load limiting functionality built into the meters to automate the limiting process. Both customers and city staff find the automated process more convenient.

“When a customer calls to ask what’s going on with their limiter, we can look at the incoming data and know exactly what’s happening,” said Diakow. “We can inform our customer what to do to get their service working properly. This solution has definitely helped improve our customer relationships.”

The utility is also expanding customer education and updating its website with useful resources that enable better insight into their energy usage. Looking ahead, the utility plans to deploy the Sensus Stratus electricity meter to gain a more robust set of data.

“We’re always looking to improve and glean better insights and we’re excited to get the Stratus meters deployed,” said Diakow. “With more information and more analytics, we’ll be able to make better decisions for our customers.”

 

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