Elkton explores ‘smart’ meter upgrades plan
— The town is moving forward with a plan to upgrade its water meters, which looks to replace at least 6,000 meters with “smart” meters.
Over the years, town officials have discussed how the aging water meters are often unreliable, under-reporting usage for properties. Officials believe the upgrade to technologically better meters will improve accuracy and decrease workload in water billings.
Severn Trent, which is contracted to run the town’s water and waste operations, currently performs the meter readings, while the town’s Department of Public Works is in charge of their maintenance.
The town is in its preliminary stages and are looking into a few companies and network systems, town administrator Lewis George said Thursday.
Sensus FlexNet network system and Mueller Systems’ Mi.Net AMI System are both being considered, Mayor Rob Alt reported. He said the systems have the capabilities of transmitting water use data from water towers directly to the town, where customer billing will be generated — similar to the technology upgrades seen in electric meters in recent years.
On Sept. 27, the town’s contracted engineering firm, KCI, sent information such as elevated structures including elevated water tanks and towers, among other necessary information, to LB Water, a water distribution company, to conduct a propagation study for the FlexNet system, George said. He said there is no set date for the study to be completed.
On Friday, George said Ferguson Waterworks, Meter and Automation Group, distributor of the Mueller system, gave KCI a “budgetary sales quote” on July 19 for the Mueller network. He said the quote would be considered preliminary since the budget was only for 5,729 meters and there are more than that. George said the town will have to have an exact amount of meters, type, size and location in the town’s water system to create a “refined” budget. He said the budget did not include installation fees and supporting infrastructure, so the cost of installation has not yet been determined.
George said the town is in the preliminary stage of the meter upgrade plan and there is more planning and development needed before the town chooses a vendor and system.
Alt said he has a few factors in mind that he is looking for in a company to go with.
“I’m looking for a company that gives the best coverage, service and best meter for the best price,” he noted.
Alt said the smart meters will benefit all of the parties involved, such as the businesses, residents and the town. He said the need for manual checks will no longer be needed and leaks can be caught earlier. He also noted that the system will give the town the option to move from a quarterly water bill to a monthly one.
George said the town will not make a decision on whether to move forward with any company until a plan has been developed, costs are determined and the money to cover the project in the water and sewer funds are approved.
Alt said the town is “probably still months away from this decision.”