Fort Collins Utilities was created many years ago to plan, build and deliver a clean, reliable supply of water (founded 1882) and electricity (founded 1935) to homes and businesses throughout our growing community. Long-term investments in waterworks, generating stations and transmission and distribution systems ensured a stable supply of water and electricity for generations of Fort Collins citizens. Over the years, we have regularly upgraded these systems with new pipes, wires, substations, pump stations, treatment systems and more.
Although we seldom consider the role of the thousands of meters that measure the quantity of electricity and water used in our homes and businesses, this simple equipment provides an important business link between our distribution systems and our customers, and enables billing for monthly services. Many of our existing meters use a mechanism that has not changed much in decades. These meters provide a one-way flow of information (from the customer to the utility) that is very basic and not timely–reporting usage from the past month.
New meter technology is changing this business link by allowing for more timely transfer of electricity and water use information to our distribution and billing systems. In the future, new meters also can be used to transfer information to customers through internet connections or other types of home networks. Electric and water crews will benefit from more
information about outages and water main problems, improving safety and helping ensure reliability. Our customers may choose to use information available to them for better management of their utility use and in many cases, to keep their costs as low as possible.
How it Works.
New meters in homes and businesses communicate encrypted consumption data to centralized communication devices. New devices, installed on substations, telephone poles, utility and light poles create a network, connecting the meters and billing systems. This system is described as a communication mesh network.
The data, which includes only a meter number, its operational status, and consumption data, is transferred to a new information system for validation and billing. Once completed, the new network may also be used by customers for more timely information on their utility use.
Provide more timely customer service
- enable quick service turn on/off when people move
- respond to high usage questions more effectively
- provide early water leak detection
Prepare the utility and the community for emerging technologies
- provide optional programs for customers to manage their electric and water usage
- prepare for the introduction of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and all electric vehicles (EV)
Use information and technology to maintain high system reliability
- enable us to respond to outages more quickly and efficiently
- provide the higher levels of power quality that are increasingly important to customers
- offer increased system reliability by anticipating and responding to system disturbances
Make utility operations even more cost-effective
- efficiently manage pipes and wires
- allow remote meter reading
Fort Collins Utilities received a federal grant (SGIG Grant) that provides half of the funding for the Advanced Meter Fort Collins initiative. The balance of project funding is covered by issuing bonds; rates will not increase as a result of this project.