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Automated Meter Reading Strategy


Automated Meter Reading Strategy Jack Griffin Manager, Meter Data Management September, 2005 Agenda Who is NSTAR? Benefits of AMR Business Case Deployment Strategy ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Automated Meter Reading Strategy

Automated Meter Reading Strategy
  • Jack Griffin
  • Manager, Meter Data Management
  • September, 2005

  • Who is NSTAR?
  • Benefits of AMR
  • Business Case
  • Deployment Strategy
  • Implementation Strategy
  • Communication Strategy
  • Challenges
  • Lessons Learned

NSTAR Electric Gas
  • Boston Edison, Commonwealth Electric
    Commonwealth Gas merged to form NSTAR
  • 1.4 Million Customers
  • 1.14 Million Electric 81 Communities
  • 260,000 Gas 51 Communities
  • Total revenues approximately 3 Billion
  • Total assets approximately 6 Billion

Distribute Electric Gas to 132 Cities Towns
including the metropolitan Boston Area.
Benefits of AMR
  • Reduce O M Costs
  • Eliminate FTEs costs to equip FTEs
  • Increase average meters read per day
  • Eliminate estimated reads
  • Fewer employee injuries / motor vehicle accidents
  • Reduce customer calls to the Call Center
  • Reduce damage to customer property
  • Reduce DTE complaints
  • Exceed service quality standards for meters read

Business Case
  • Automate the metering process for all meters
    except Time -of -Use in the areas defined as Mass
    Ave, Westwood and Southborough.
  • 190,144 KWh
  • Demand 18,622 KW
  • The project is financially attractive to NSTAR
    because it reduces OM expenses.
  • The project will also improve revenues by
    increasing the precision around energy
    consumption demand readings. In addition, lost
    meters are being recovered and unbilled accounts

Business Case
  • OM Reduction -Annual Average Savings 4,899,175
  • NSTAR reduces OM costs by reducing 46 FTEs from
  • Reading area along with the variable costs
    associated with equipping
  • them. Variable costs include vehicles from the
    fleet, cell phones,
  • uniforms other items.
  • KWh Improvement Annual Average Revenue Increase
  • NSTAR will realize improved KWh recognition on
    all new meters
  • that utilize solid state technology. Industry
    reviews and standards
  • recognize about a 2 improvement from replacing
  • meters with solid state technology. - We used

Business Case
  • Demand Calculation Improvement -Annual Average
    Revenue Increase 609,046
  • The majority of the demand meters being replaced
    are mechanical or electro-mechanical.
  • The ABB A3 is fully electronic and provides
    improved demand metering performance by
  • about 0.7. The solid state meters calculate the
    demand using a 5 minute rolling, 15
  • minute period calculation in lieu of a 15 minute
    block calculation.
  • Recovery of Lost Accounts - Annual Average
    Revenue Increase 142,052
  • During the FY2002 deployment of 9,500 Demand AMR
    meters, NSTAR found meters
  • that were not in the Customer Information System
    and therefore were not being billed.
  • We believe this trend will continue to occur with
    future deployments.

Business Case
  • The financial analysis assumed that the major
    cost components are the cost of the AMR meters
    themselves and the cost of labor to install the
  • The financial model used best last price for
    the cost of common meter types. Best Last Price
    minimizes the exposure to cost overrun, and
    presents the possibility that NSTARs actual
    costs may be lower than projected given that a
    competitive procurement process will be used.
  • Installation labor costs are exposed to some risk
    dependent on Meter Technicals ability to
    complete installations at targeted rate per
  • This risk is offset by management control and
    monitoring, confirmed unit per hour performance,
    and fixed labor rate costs per the Local 369

Balancing Operational and Financial Factors
Deployment Strategy by Office
  • Key Financial Components in Magnitude order
  • Reduced OM
  • Improved demand measurement
  • Improved KWh Measurement
  • Recovering Lost Accounts

Implementation Strategy
  • Complete an entire town before moving to the
  • Identify large apartment complexes in the towns
    to maximize productivity.
  • Negotiate an agreement with Local 369 for use of
    non-traditional employees and outside resources
    as well as language to manage OT.
  • Non-traditional and outside resources install
    single phase residential meters.
  • NSTAR resources install demand / transformer
    rated meters.
  • Train equip non-traditional employees with
    vehicles and tools.
  • Outside contractor is responsible for training
    and equipping their employees with vehicles and

Implementation Strategy
  • Leverage the experience and knowledge of existing
    Meter Reading
  • resources to gain access to difficult
  • Use the warrant process to gain access to
    difficult locations.
  • Coordinate the use of FSRs FSTs to avoid
    impeding normal business operations.
  • Identify strategic locations for meter
  • Coordinate pre-packaging of identified routes.
  • Coordinate with Meter Lab for tracking of
  • Hire Electricians to support the deployment to
    eliminate claims media relations / DTE
  • Hired temporary staff to meet current reading

Implementation Strategy
  • Demand Metering in a Mobile AMR Environment
  • Traditional AMR Deployment Strategies left
    demands behind.
  • In 2002, Elster / Itron developed a 3-ERT meter
    that allows for capturing KWh, Peak Demand, and
    Reset Date
  • NSTAR developed 6 reset date programs and the
    needed IT infrastructure to support them. The
    reset date then forces NSTAR to align meter
    reading routes geographically on a cycle basis to
    post the consumption.
  • Developed Swim Lane method for identifying
    specific areas / Towns that require the same
    Demand Reset Program.
  • Started systematic process of moving reading
    assignments to match the geographic requirements.

Implementation Strategy Data Currency
Manual Route Cycle Division Route
21-82-123 21 Cycles 21 Work Days Division
Geographic Area Route 3 Digit Code in
CIS Mobile Route Cycle Division Split
021 82-0 Split is predefined by specifically
identifying CIS Routes associated with the
Implementation Strategy Data Currency
  • Life Cycle of the Reading Billing Process
  • Day 18 for a cycle Request a Read MRI Day
  • Meter Reading Input File ( Itron P4 )
  • Day 21 Schedule Read Day.
  • Day 1 Scheduled Bill Day.
  • Day 4 Default Day.
  • If we fail to read a meter by Day 4, CIS attempts
    to estimate bill
  • Day 1 Billing is about 80 by Day 4 99.5

Implementation Strategy Data Currency
Tactical Question When in the Billing Life
Cycle do we want to change the Meter? We chose
Outside the Billing Window. This basic
decision and the infrastructure state we have
then drives all other deployment activity. Each
Day, we use specific FTP files from Day 18
process and update our and our partners system.
Implementation Strategy Data Currency
  • Daily file transfer updates our Partners system
    to provide them usage information, account
    changes (move in / Move out) and any internal
    activity that impacted the external plan. This
    continuous updating keeps them in sync with our
    best available information and provides them an
    indication of how well we are completing the
    exchange transactions.
  • We adjust deployment focus by ensuring teams are
    working accounts Outside the billing window.
    Essentially, once a cycle is defaulted, teams
    are staged to execute that specific area. They
    are given a Window of operations from Work Day 5
    to Work Day 16.

Implementation Strategy Data Currency
  • The Process Starting on Day 5.
  • Technician exchanges the meter. Using a NexTell
    phone, she answers the following questions
  • What Meter are you looking at?
  • Response calls up Street address, name, and
  • What is the reading?
  • Response validates against Average Daily use with
    a /- 10 range. If Fails re-read.
  • What is the meter you are installing?
  • Response is validated against the stock issued
    that day minus already used numbers

Implementation Strategy Data Currency
  • The Process Continued
  • Technician places old meter in box from new meter
    and proceeds to next location.
  • At the end of the day, Technician closes out the
    days package by inventorying the old meters and
    new meters not used. Data systems updated that
    evening to update their inventory status.
  • Day 6 Shop staff image - scan all old meters
    and enter reading. Out meter number and reading
    are matched against previous days exchanges.
    Exceptions reviewed, approved by Supervisory

Implementation Strategy Data Currency
  • The Process Continued
  • Day 6 Evening Partner FTPs completions to
    NSTAR. Overnight batch process posts completions
    to accounts.
  • Day 7 Internal Metering Admin Staff review,
    correct posting failures. Averaging about 0.2.
  • Day 18 CIS assigns meter to be read.
  • Day 21 to day 4 Meter Reading reads routes
  • Day 5 Identify Newly Installed Meters
    stratifying by Successfully Read or Not.
  • Successfully read Notify partner to invoice for
    exchange Unsuccessful prove it is there and

Implementation Customer Impact
Benefits Achieved
  • Reduced OM Costs
  • Elimination of 46 FTEs
  • Increase average meters read per day
  • Meter Reader 300
  • Van 5,000
  • Eliminate estimated reads
  • Eliminate / reduce calls to the Call Center
  • Fewer employee injuries / motor vehicle accidents
  • Improve customer satisfaction
  • Reduce DTE complaints
  • Exceed service quality standards for meters read

Communication Strategy
  • Internal
  • Union Leadership was notified early in the
    process of the anticipated reduction in
  • Project updates are communicated to employees as
    they are received and quarterly meetings are held
    with employees to address their concerns.
  • Provide the Call Center, Billing, DTE Community
    relations groups with our deployment schedules so
    that they may handle inquiries from customers.
  • Hold quarterly Steering Committee meetings to
    report on the Projects status.
  • External
  • Our Community Relations Representatives provided
    the local community agencies, Police and Fire
    departments with our deployment schedules.
  • Pre-recorded messages are left for customers two
    weeks prior to the exchange date notifying them
    that NSTAR will be visiting their home to
    exchange their meter.
  • Letters are mailed to our hard to- access
    customer premises to schedule appointments to
    have the meters exchanged.

  • NSTARs Field Service Dispatch Technology was not
    sufficient to handle mass-deployments.
  • Aggressive replacement schedule to replace
    200,000 meters in 12 month period.
  • Starting an outside replacement project in the
    winter months.
  • Coordinating pre-programmed Demand meters with
    proper cycle/area.
  • Resource constraints Balancing core work with
    project work.
  • High population of inside meters.
  • Monitoring high volume of meter inventory
  • Replacing demand and complex meters.
  • Revisiting areas where non-demand AMR meters are
    now in place to install the demands and
    transformer rated meters Swiss Cheese

  • Delayed deployment of contractor exchanges due
  • Need to award RFP negotiate contract.
  • Leasing of contractors facility
  • System changes to enable use of Honeywells work
    management system.
  • Staffing
  • Unavailability of Itron ERTs for Elster Demand
  • Delayed sample testing and pre-kitting of Boston
  • Underground fed meter sockets posed issues with
    meter replacement.

  • Physical Challenges Crews Faced
  • Meter trough not connected to the house.
  • Customer has siding on house blocking part of
    meter trough therefore crew could not remove
    the meter trough cover. Customer had to arrange
    for the siding to be removed.
  • Meter socket hanging off house. Needs to be
    repaired before exchange can take place.
  • Trough is rusted and needs to be replaced, cannot
    get cover off without breaking the latch.
  • Unable to change meter due to rotted dish pan
    trough jaws. Line jaws didnt separate from line
    side of meter.
  • Unsafe underground conditions.

Lessons Learned
  • Develop a solid communication plan for internal
    and external customers.
  • Start deployments in Spring vs. Winter.
  • Set clear expectations for Senior Managers on
    what it takes to successfully complete the
  • Avoid the Swiss Cheese approach.
  • Allow sufficient planning for meter reading route
    cut over and IT system development.

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