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Remote meter reading in the future for utilities

BY SHARON BARDONNER - sbardonner@ftimes.com

When tenants begin to occupy the 74 units at the new Nickel Plate Flats apartment complex in Frankfort next year, the meter readers for Frankfort Municipal Utilities will have new technology for determining each unit’s water usage, according to Todd Corrie, general manager for FMU.

AMR (Automatic Meter Reading) technology will be installed at Nickel Plate Flats by the developers as part of the construction process.

Corrie suggested that the USB begin considering installing AMR technology on its current meters as the board considers staffing as part of the budget process. AMR could be used to collect usage data using fewer employees, since head counts are expected to fall as attrition occurs through retirements and employees getting other jobs. 

A portion of the city could be targeted for the installation of the technology, said Corrie, noting that FMU would likely start first with retrofitting the electric meters since cold weather would make working on the water meters unlikely.

“The meters themselves can stay the same,” he said. “You just change a part in the meter to convert it to AMR.”

Corrie said FMU would plan out an installation procedure to bring different sectors of the city online over time. Once a sector’s electric meters have been converted, the same sector’s water meters would be converted to AMR so that both sets of meters can be read electronically. 

Corrie told the USB he had sourced remanufactured AMR electric meters with the new gadget for $32 altogether.

Corrie said FMU could retrofit most of its current electric meters if the utility wanted to pay its own employees to do it. Some AMR technology allows the data to be collected through the web, while other systems collect the information via handheld units.

FMU has two handheld units already, said Corrie.