Utilities Kingston in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, has contracted Itron to provide the municipality with advanced Fixed Network automatic meter reading (AMR) technology and CENTRON solid-state electricity meters.
Located on the northern shores of Lake Ontario, the Kingston municipality provides water, gas and electricity services to most of its 146,000 residents. Kingston joins four other Ontario utilities that have deployed pilots of Itron’s Fixed Network advanced metering technology—Wasaga Distribution, Hydro Ottawa Limited, Bluewater Power and Toronto Hydro—in anticipation of new “smart meter” initiatives from the Ontario Ministry of Energy to foster energy and water conservation.
The Ontario Ministry of Energy is proposing legislation that requires utilities to collect electricity usage data more frequently, and to offer programs that enable customers to respond to time-sensitive pricing, especially during periods of peak loads. If passed, the bill will serve as another important step in the government’s plan to create a culture of conservation and empower citizens to conserve energy and reduce the strain on the power delivery system during peak periods.
“Having smart meters on all three services – electricity, water and gas – under one fixed network is tremendously advantageous,” said Jim Keech, president and CEO for Utilities Kingston. “We save money with the economies of scale, we save time, it promotes both energy and water conservation and our customers are happier.”
One of the key drivers for Kingston’s selection of Itron’s technology is the system’s open architecture that will allow Kingston to use its fiber optic network for backhaul communication from Itron’s network collector units, said Keech.
Brad Joyce, a Utilities Kingston manager, said the utility is looking to expand its fixed network deployment to cover a total of 27,000 electric meters, as well as 34,000 water and 14,000 gas meters. Joyce said that with Itron’s Fixed Network, Kingston can reduce the cost of obtaining meter reads and reduce the cost from thefts of energy and water by identifying meter tampering and anomalies in consumption patterns.
Itron’s Fixed Network will also eliminate estimating customers’ bills, said Joyce. Customers are billed monthly, but actual meter reads are obtained only every two or three months. The off-months are estimated and adjusted in the next billing statement.
“That is the single most frequent complaint we receive – estimated bills – particularly with the tiered-price structure associated with energy and water,” said Joyce. “With Itron’s Fixed Network, we won’t have to estimate anymore and we can provide more timely, accurate information to our customers about their energy and water use.”