Garden City, Kansas, has successfully deployed an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) system for its electric and water utilities. The AMI program includes smart electric and water metering in addition to distribution automation applications, demonstrating the benefits of using a licensed-spectrum approach to AMI that adheres to open standards and supports multiple-applications with one dedicated network.
City officials began reviewing AMI network options nearly two years ago as they sought a solution that would deliver accurate, real-time information on usage to improve customer service and operational efficiency for both utilities. Garden City ultimately selected Sensus because its FlexNet system was proven to support both water and electric needs with one communications highway, lowering installation costs and ensuring future viability of the technology. Garden City worked with Sensus distributor HD Supply for onsite project management throughout the installation process.
Prior to implementing an AMI system, Garden City outsourced meter reading to a contractor, so they have removed those costs and reduced the number of trucks on the road. In addition, they eliminated the need to estimate usage during winter months when meters are often inaccessible due to snow and ice. Other benefits of the AMI program include notification of theft of service and freeing up staff time once spent on billing corrections.
The installation of the FlexNet system and meters is now complete at a cost of approximately $3.3 million, which was financed by the city. Officials estimate a full return on investment for the electric program in three years and are gathering data to calculate the return for the water program.
Future applications for the program will include demand response and home area networking. Garden City anticipates these applications may be introduced in the next three to five years.