Smart meters on tap in City

The City of Exeter has its eyes on a direct read system for water meters.

On Nov. 13, City Council members authorized staff to issue a Request for Proposal to look into the matter more thoroughly. A direct read system, also known as an integrated fixed-network, advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and customer information system (CIS) solution is the way of the future. Edison already has their customers using this technology via their Smart Meters.

Public Works Director Daymon Qualls said that over the past year Public Works has sought more cost effective ways to increase their operational efficiency, streamline job assignments and improve customer service. The city currently requires five public works personnel to read water meters over five days; something the direct read system could do with a click of a mouse. A direct read system would mean automatic meter reading and uploading, work order processing and asset management.

Qualls said a new system could generate about 750 accurate meter readings per month, essentially eliminating the need for re-reads and making it possible for residents to get real-time information on their current usage.

“It would essentially change how we do business in our department,” Qualls said to council.

Public Works recently had an operational assessment and billing system audit that revealed areas of lost revenue sources. The audit also noted a potential cost savings if the city switched to a direct read system. A new system like this would not automatically mean staff cuts.

Qualls stated that the system would free up manpower hours which could be re-allocated to other areas of the department.

The Request for Proposal is step one for the city. They will research what options are available and analyze whether or not it’d be fiscally feasible to move in this direction.

Once proposals are received and reviewed, staff would return to Council with a report and potential recommendation for action.

“We’d like to look at what options are available to us,” Qualls said. “This could potentially be a cost effective way to move our department into the 21st century.”

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