The City of Dothan, Alabama, recently turned to Aclara, a division of Hubbell Utility Solutions and a supplier of smart infrastructure solutions (SIS) to electric, gas, and water utilities worldwide, for an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) solution to support its 31,000 electric and 35,000 water meters. A new case study details how the city implemented a single network solution that effectively collects water and electric meter readings, and provides the information needed to enhance operations and customer service for city residents.
Dothan implemented the Aclara RF network, a point-to-multipoint network that provides gas, electric, and water utilities with reliable, two-way communications. The AMI solution was particularly suited to Dothan's service territory, which is characterized by electric and water customers dispersed across differing geographic areas. Also key to the implementation is the AclaraONE software platform that allows the city to employ a single system to manage and use data from both water and electric meters.
"The City of Dothan is a good example of the type of utility that benefits most from Aclara's SIS approach to combination utilities," said Kumi Premathilake, division vice president, AMI and services, Hubbell Utility Systems. "The ability to flexibly configure the network, as well as manage both water and electric data with the same head-end software, allows the utility to cost-effectively and efficiently serve its customers."
In addition to meter reading, the new AMI system will also play a critical role in providing outage restoration after extreme weather events such as hurricanes, which happen quite frequently in the state. The AMI data from the Aclara system is funneled directly into the utility's outage management system, providing an immediate view into the extent of an outage.
"Now that we've tied the Aclara system [through the interface available in AclaraONE] into our outage management system, we see outage information automatically," said Chris Phillips, electric operations superintendent, City of Dothan. "This allows our crews to more quickly pinpoint where repairs must be made on the distribution system."
The Aclara AMI solution is also helping Dothan provide a prepayment service to electric and water customers. The city's prepayment program eliminates up-front deposits, prevents monthly billing surprises, empowers customers to track usage, and allows them to manage their own payment cycles.
"The financial benefits from the prepay program for our budget-conscious customers as well as Dothan Utilities has been tremendous. To achieve this, getting 15-minute data from electric meters and hourly data from water meters read by Aclara's AMI system was instrumental," Phillips added.