System chosen to engage consumers & upgrade billing processes
The Coldwater Board of Public Utilities (BPU) has chosen MeterSense and CustomerConnect, Harris Utilities’ meter data management (MDM) solution and customer engagement solution (CES), to enhance its engineering, billing and service processes and encourage further consumers involvement in key conservation programs.
Located in southern Michigan, Coldwater BPU delivers water and electric services across 12,500 meters to a population of approximately 10,200 residential and commercial and industrial (C&I) consumers. The utility launched a pilot project to test advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) in January 2012. The project’s aim was twofold. First, to test the capacity of the AMI software to interpret data derived from the polyphase meters used by the utility for its large C&I accounts. Second, to entirely replace its enterprise residential meters with smart meters. Shortly into the project, Coldwater BPU officials judged they needed an MDM application to gather, store and analyze smart meter data derived from the residential AMI, and to extract usage and billing data from the utility’s polyphase meters.
Charles Bauschard, engineering manager with Coldwater BPU, said that once the utility realized an MDM was essential to the successful implementation of its smart metering solution, it temporarily suspended its AMI pilot project.
“Once we understood that we required an MDM solution, we began to develop a list of functions we required from that application,” he said. “On our large C&I accounts, for example, the process of reading meters, reporting billing determinants and inputting data into our customer information system is long and detailed. An MDM that can automate that process and ensure it’s done accurately every time is extremely valuable to us.”
Coldwater BPU chose MeterSense in part because the rules engine could be configured to manage the influx of data coming from the polyphase meters, and in part because of the solution’s capacity to fully automate billing processes across all meters. The utility also saw value in the system’s potential to enhance its meter reading processes. Coldwater BPU currently reads most of its water and electric meters using automatic meter reading technology. It plans to use MeterSense to fully automate that function and free up field personnel to perform other, more complex tasks. The utility also expects to draw on the system’s native analytics functions to detect grid losses, manage service disconnects and augment its service team’s capacity to respond to end users’ billing questions.
With MeterSense in place and expected to go live in the summer, Coldwater BPU expects to resume its AMI pilot project soon.