Bluebonnet began installing this month the latest in meter technology in 90 homes and nine businesses as part of a pilot program that will test the feasibility and benefits of advanced metering infrastructure.
“This pilot will test AMI meters to see if they work in our area and with our technology platform,” said Eric Kocian, manager of electric operations. “The benefit to AMI meters is that they provide more useful data than our current meters. We can use that data to improve system reliability by identifying areas that are experiencing problems and then being proactive in repairing or replacing equipment before an outage occurs.”
Currently, Bluebonnet’s AMR (automated meter reading) meters record just one piece of data – kilowatt hours. AMI meters record six times more data, including, amps, voltage and blink counts, which can be better used to plan maintenance and to schedule system improvement plans. The meters also automatically report tampering and outages, enabling us to dispatch crews to the area before the outage is reported by a member.
An immediate and direct economic benefit of AMI meters is their remote disconnect-and-connect capability that will save time and money by not having to send someone to manually do the job.
The AMI meters being deployed are GE meters with Itron modules. The data will be received through AT&T’s cellular communications network. Once received, it will be processed through Bluebonnet’s meter data management system and SAP for billing. The data will then be presented to co-op members online through the Net Energy Market.
Kocian said the pilot program will provide enough data by the end of 2012 to know if the meters will work. This pilot program is the first step in moving forward with deploying an AMI meter platform, which is part of Bluebonnet’s five-year strategic plan.