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Meter Electronics Pilot Project
Beginning in May 2011, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities will upgrade water meter electronics in certain neighborhoods. This is a pilot test of new technology that, if successful, could help us respond better to questions about water use. There will be no new charges on the water bill for the device or the installation. 
100W meter pilot test
Customers should not notice any service interruptions or changes during the pilot. However, to activate the new equipment, crews will need to run water from an exterior faucet at homes. This brief test will ensure that the new equipment is installed and functioning correctly.

  • Automated Meter Reading (AMR) devices allow technicians to read your water meter from their vehicle.
  • The new equipment installed is one of the latest versions of the AMR technology currently available. 
  • Installation of the new devices will improve meter reading efficiency. 
  • The water meter is not changing, only the electronic devices attached to the meter that record and transmit the data. 
  • Many technologies are available but not all compatible with existing equipment (invested cost) 
  • Need more information so that we can ask the right questions for long term planning 
  • Need to try solutions now to be ready for the new desires for water use information 
  • Need to be sure solutions will allow migration path for current technology to new technology 
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities (CMUD) is contracting a pilot usage study for the next generation electronic endpoints located in Mecklenburg County North Carolina. CMUD has several objectives for conducting this pilot of next generation technology:
  • Obtain historical, hourly interval data on customer usage
  • Obtain leak data on city and customer lines
  • Collect interval data using the existing mobile reader and determine potential drive time implications for future mobile collections if device was to be fully deployed in the service area
  • Study the use of ADE registers with the new electronic endpoint
  • Study the use of the handheld reading devices during service work
  • Study the use of the new endpoints in different service routes selected based on consumption and audit baseline data
  • Study the use of the endpoints up to six months after pilot equipment is fully deployed (time depending on issues encountered in the pilot installation and need for data)
  • Maintain billing cycle while completing installation
  • Minimize disruption to customers
  • Seamlessly communicate billing data collected with the new electronic endpoint back to the existing billing software
  • Install leak detection sensors, study the information collected, and determine the potential implications for future use of leak sensors
  • Determine the requirements for providing more usage data to customers real time
  • Determine the requirements for a potential future fixed network
Questions and Answers

Q: Why is the City conducting pilot studies?
A: Last summer, an audit of water meter equipment was completed. One of the recommendations from the audit was to explore new technologies that will help address questions concerning customer water usage. The two pilot studies will consider two new versions of electronic water meter equipment and help establish a knowledge base for long term water meter equipment planning.

Q: Who is paying for these pilot studies?
A: The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility Department, an enterprise fund department of the City of Charlotte.

Q: Who is going to perform these studies?
A: CMUD will lead the projects and their evaluations, but installation contractors and equipment vendors will assist with the equipment setup. All field technicians will be properly identified with a City Contractor Identification and driving a vehicle with signage. They will not need to access the inside of resident’s home for any reason.

Q: How are addresses chosen?
A: Addresses were selected from the pool of accounts used in the 2010 summer audit because baseline information was established then. Accounts were also chosen based on levels of usage. Only residential customers are included at this time. Accounts are selected by a software program which does not allow picking one address at a time. Entire neighborhoods were selected.

Q: What if I don’t want my electronics replaced:
A: Although the meter belongs to the property owner, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities has the responsibility of maintaining the meter and ensuring its accuracy. The meter is located within the public right-of-way.

Q: Can I request to be put on a future list for new electronics?
A: We are unable to add specific addresses at this time.

Q: What will the electronic update include?
A: The electronics will be replaced with the new technology. The installer will verify that the mechanical meter and transmitter (ERT) are working properly before leaving the installation site. This will also include:
  • Take photos of meter box conditions 
  • Ensure mechanical dials and electronic readings match 
  • Tech will perform a “water flow” test if there is an available external spigot/faucet 
  • If no spigot/faucet the Tech will perform an electronic test at the meter 
  • The Tech will leave a door tag with results
Q: How much water is used during the flow test and will I be reimbursed for usage?
A: The installation requires up to 15 gallons of water which amounts to less than 25 cents of water. There will not be an adjustment on the customer’s bill as this is considered preventive maintenance work to the metering equipment.

Q: What if a problem is found – when will it be fixed and how will the customer be notified?
A: If the city owned equipment repair is simple and can be performed by CMUD Meter Management Staff, the goal is to have it repaired before the customer receives their next bill. If the repair requires CMUD Field Operations (digging up city water pipe), the appropriate service order will be created and the repair will take additional time.

Q: If the repair impacts the customer’s bill, what will happen?
A: This would follow our normal process for city leaks. If the customer has not been billed, CMUD Pre-Billing staff will make an adjustment if appropriate. If the customer has been billed, Pre-Billing staff would create a request for the CMUD Billing Center to perform an adjustment if appropriate.

Q: Which areas are involved in the pilot studies of new electronics?

Itron 100W – approximately 1500 Units deployed 
  • Hidden Valley (750) 
  • River Run (750)
  • Installation begins in May
Badger Orion – approximately 700 Units 
  • Faires Farm (350) 
  • Peninsula (350) 
  • Installation begins in September