The city of Liberty is installing Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) - sometimes called smart meters - for its city-operated water service and expect to have installation completed this year.
Liberty has approximately 10,500 residential and commercial water meters.
The city of Independence consideration of AMI includes the installation of smart meters for the city’s water customers - a consideration often overlooked as the controversy has tended to focus on Independence Power and Light.
The city of Independence’s AMI consultant, in its 2015 report, noted:
“The water utility industry is now leveraging developments used by peers in the electric utilities for communications, billing, cybersecurity, data privacy, and smart grid, and adapting them for applications such as theft detection and leak detection. Furthermore, data derived by AMI can be integrated into hydraulic models to augment leak detection, enhance the system design, and inform capital investments in the water distribution system.”
In addition to Liberty, the city of Sugar Creek is also involved in an AMI water meter project this year.
“An Automated Meter Reading (AMR) device, which is installed on most gas meters, reads your meter. Spire automatically receives regular readings of your gas usage from the AMR device. This is the safest, most efficient way to measure the amount of gas used. In some service areas, our technicians manually collect readings each month.”
Here’s a more detailed explanation from Lowell Krofft who lives in Independence and knowledgeable about technology behind the proposed “smart meters” - also known as Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) which would be utilized if the city proceeds with new electric and separate water meters for the city-owned utilities.
n 2017, Spire purchased the meters - which it had been leasing - for $16.6 million. Spire’s decision to purchase the existing meters saved customers about $1 million annually and also significantly reduced its meter reading costs.
PSC filings indicate Spire will be replacing the existing meters with a new system in 2020 and have the project completed by 2024.
The Kansas Corporation Commission, which regulates utilities, ruled that the investor-owned Westar and KCPL did not have to provide opt opportunities for customers opposed to "smart meters" or Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI).
This was an issue in the recent Independence debate which was settled when a 5-2 council majority voted not to proceed with AMI.
The ruling since it "found no health, safety, or privacy risks or legitimate threats faced from the use of AMI meters, it makes little sense to mandate that Kansas public utilities create a new program for such a small subset of customers."
Low-income residents are energy-burden spending large share of their available incomes spent on energy bills.
The high energy bills may be due to lack of weatherization, older inefficient utilities or older houses constructed before improved building codes.
One market-based approach was shared during a recent Indy Energy forum by Philip Fracica with Renew Mo.
This particular program is Pay As You Save® ("PAYS®") which allows utilities to invest in energy efficiency upgrades on the customer side of the meter and assure immediate net savings to the customer. (See the video).
Energy-saving upgrades are installed in a customer's home or building, but the utility pays the up-front cost of the installed energy-saving measures. To recover its costs, the utility puts a fixed charge on the customer's electric bill that is significantly less than the estimated energy savings from the upgrades.
The customer sees immediate net annual savings by incurring less expense for energy while paying a fixed charge that is below the total estimated energy savings.
The city has issues a proposals for green energy initiatives and perhaps some additional projects for the community solar farm at the former Rockwood golf courses.
Details of the potential projects are outlined in a city Request for Proposal which was issued Oct. 18th.
The proposals asks for energy conservation measures for various city facilities through updating “outdated and obsolete building & equipment” with the idea to reduce annual utility costs. Potential city buildings listed include fire stations, city hall and other city-owned and operated buildings.
It also requests proposals for solar power at the Courtney Bend Water Treatment Plant and ancillary solar facilities adjacent to the Rockwood community solar farm.