Advanced metering “is a game changer for us,” said Louisville Water President & CEO Spencer Bruce.
The company’s advanced metering program is a great example of its commitment not only to innovation but also to efficient operations and to providing the best possible experience for customers.
The program involves installation of smart meters that give customers real-time access to their water usage data. These meters are equipped with wireless communication capabilities to send data to Louisville Water receivers, and they let customers monitor and adjust their water consumption – and avoid unnecessary expenses by watching for signs of leaks in home plumbing – through the Pure Connect portal.
With the help of contractors Itron and Grid One Solutions, Louisville Water began upgrading meters in 2020. Installations have now surpassed 150,000, which means we’ve reached the halfway point because Louisville Water has roughly 300,000 individual metered accounts in our service area (including residential, commercial, irrigation, fire services, metro, and wholesale customers).
And we’ll soon be well past the halfway mark because “installations continue with an improving pace,” said Project Manager Eric Ayers.
Grid One is still adding new technicians, and they are completing about 2,400 installations every week. These installations are now ongoing in the western part of Louisville and soon will be followed by new installations in the eastern part of the city.
Maintaining project inventory
Ayers also pointed out that although equipment inventory and supply line disruptions have plagued some public works projects since the start of the pandemic, the inventory for advanced metering equipment “is in good condition, with more than six months of inventory available.”
Procurement of utility poles has also returned to normal delivery times after being delayed by the pandemic. Since the project began, more than 200 poles with Connected Grid Routers (CGRs) have been installed to relay wireless meter data. Nearly 20 additional utility pole installations are in progress.
When installers go to a new area to begin replacing meters, customers are notified by postcard. While the replacement is being made, water is shut off for each customer for 30 minutes or less. For the first six months after the upgrade, customers’ meters are read the traditional way, but once signals are set, the customer transitions to a monthly bill. Since the project began, more than 78,000 Louisville Water customers have made the transition.
A win-win project
Advanced meters offer significant benefits not only to customers but also to Louisville Water operations. For example, the meters create a safer work environment for our crews, who do not need to walk through neighborhoods to manually collect water readings.
Advanced meters also have eliminated more than 7,000 “truck rolls” to transfer a meter from one account to another because the upgraded meters allow office staff (instead of field workers) to read the meter when a customer moves away from an address and a new customer moves in.
Preparing for the final phases of the project this year and in 2024, Ayers said the project team will continue to procure meters, lids, and other equipment; work to retain installers and inspectors; and develop an operational dashboard to make sure the project continues to meet customer needs and enhance company operations.
Customers can check on their meter upgrade status on the Meter Upgrade Project web page.