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					 Anatomy of a Successful Smart
       Meter Rollout
Austin Energy installs more than 400,000 automated meters with
                 support from the community.




                                                                 1
Austin Energy Stats
   Founded in 1895, AE is a Municipally-owned electric
    utility
   437 square mile service territory, 11 Sq miles dually
    certified
   Own or are part-owners in Gas, Lignite and Nuclear
    power plants in TX, totaling 2380.6 MW
   Contracts for Renewable generation totaling 452.1 MW
   Strongly encourage Solar, Demand Response &
    conservation programs since 1982




                                                            2
Austin Energy Stats 2
   Approximately 360,000 Residential customers
   Just under 50,000 C&I customers
   Latest System Peak Demand was 2628 MW on August
    23, 4PM (CST)
   Last fiscal year’s annual sales were 10,848 GWH
   Member of ERCOT
   Not opted-in to deregulated markets
   But are surrounded by deregulated TX market



                                                      3
Austin Energy AMR Project
• 2002-2003 AE installed 127,000 1-Way meters,
  primarily on apartment complexes
• Started planning 2-Way project Fall 2007
  Signed contracts
  Ordered meters
  Hired & trained meter installation contractor in AE
   safety procedures
  Planned project & work flows
  Reviewed links - who is affected
  Re-designed project (several times)

                                                         4
Austin Energy AMR Project 2
• Established a cross-functional, inter-departmental team
  from ESD, Customer Care, ITT, etc.
• Installed 1st 2-Way meter April 2008
• Increased Community outreach about installations in
  May 2008
• Completed “Mass Deployment” Aug 2009 (98%)
• Last year spent on clean up:
   meter communications issues
   revising AE business processes
   training employees on new meters, meter capabilities and
    data now available
• Overlaid 1-Way & 2-Way system, using RF technology
◦ Currently have 111,000 1-Way and 303,700 2-Way
  AMR meters installed                                         5
6
              Deployment Team
Deployment Team
   • Austin Energy
   • Meter Installation
     Contractors                                    Austin
                                    AMR             Energy
                                  Network
   • AMR Network Provider         Provider

Mission                                        Meter
                                             Installation
                                             Contractor
To allow easy communication
between all contributors
Objective
                                 Deployment Team
To provide excellent customer
  service for the community
  during Austin Energy’s meter
  exchange.

                                                             7
                Deployment Team Becomes
                Central Communications Hub
During deployment, the objective was expanded to include not only
customers, but vendors, contractors, and all other Austin Energy
departments.

                                        Metering
                             AMR       Operations   Contract
                           Network
                                                    Installers
                           Provider

                Finance                                          ITT



                                                                     Field
            Billing
                                   Deployment                      Services

                                     Team
                                                                   Call
           Marketing
                                                                  Center


                      After Hour
                                                           Customers
                        Crews
                                     Key
                                              Escalation
                                   Account
                                                Team
                                   Managers


                                                                              8
Internal Communications were Crucial
Communication, Communication, Communication…

The Deployment Team:
   To communicate consistently the Deployment Team, including
    our network provider and contract installers met weekly since
    2007, only recently (late 2010) moving to bi-weekly meetings.
   The Team discussed issues as discovered, created alternate
    process, developed permanent resolution and notified affected
    groups
    ◦ After Hour Notification to Deployment Team for Trouble
      shooters, After Hours Field Crews
    ◦ Alert Billing group of any changes potentially affecting a customer’s
      bill


                                                                              9
More Internal Communications
Communication, Communication, Communication…

 Austin Energy Employees
    Periodic communications broadcast to ALL Austin Energy personnel
    Internal email address created
    Messages sent directly to Deployment Call Center team for immediate
     response
 Installers
    Special phone number for field personnel only
    Known as Red Line
    Went directly to Dock Center team
    Used to identify locations, gate codes, handle customer escalations
     from field, meter installation issues, etc.


                                                                           10
     External Communications Also Crucial
       Communication, Communication, Communication…
Austin Energy Customers
   Special phone number and email address
    created
   Main Call Center forwarded AMR calls
    to a specially-trained Deployment Call
    Center group
   Consistent messaging was key
   Worked with Community Coordinators
    to make special arrangements for Life
    Support customers
   Notified partnering social-service
    agencies that assist low-income clients
    and provided a presentation with the
    details

                                                      11
How Did We Communicate with
        Customers?

   Postcards*
   Austin Energy Web site
   Customer calls*
   Door hangers*
   Local news coverage (television and newspaper)
   Special newspaper insert spread
   Bill Inserts

                       * Was also provided in Spanish
                                                        12
Austin American-Statesman Insert




                                   13
                News Media Examples
KXAN-TV                                              Austin Energy Brings Two-Way
  If you are an Austin Energy customer, then           Meter Technology To Austin
  starting Thursday your electric meter became
  a "smart" one.                                     In the coming months, Austin Energy
  Crews spent the day installing smart electric      will be in your neighborhood to
  meters throughout the city. The advanced           replace your electric meters with
  meter will replace the old manually read ones.     state-of-the-art automated meters.
                                                     The new meters will offer many
  The new meter can better measure your              advantages in the future, including
  usage, eliminate the need for crews to get into    remote reads, faster outage response
  your backyard for readings and send a message      and more billing and payment options.
  to Austin Energy when there is a power
  outage.                                            The new two-way meter system will
                                                     be the largest of its kind in the
  "Today, when your lights go out, you need to       country. Look for notification in the
  give us a call to let us know that," said Cheryl   mail before the meters are changed
  Mele of Austin Energy. "What we envision in        out. Installers will wear an Austin
  the future is that we're going to get a response   Energy badge, and will knock on the
  from this new system, and it's going to tell us,   door before they attempt to change
  'Your lights are out.' We're going to get that     the meters.
  call passed on to our system operators, and be
  able to dispatch a crew and respond to that        You can expect a temporary
  outage a little bit quicker than waiting on you    disruption to your electric service for
  to call.“                                          a few minutes during the meter
                                                     exchange. You will need to reset your
  Additional features will allow Austin Energy to    electronic devices, such as clocks,
  turn off and reinstate service without sending     alarms and sprinkler systems.
  out a crew.
                                                                                           14
Walking the customers through the steps




                                          15
Sending postcards prior to arriving




                                      16
Notified the customers we were there by knocking
     at the door upon arrival at the property.




                                               17
     How were AMR calls handled?
Austin Energy Customer Service Representatives were well-versed on
  the processes of the Deployment Team
   Deployment Call Center team served as subject matter experts
   Depending on the escalation circumstance, Austin Energy offered various
    options:
    • Flexible appointments
         • Ranging from all day to within a few hours
         • Early morning before businesses open
         • Before and after customers got home from work
         • Weekends
    • Meter testing
         • Provided new meter information
         • Provided details of old meters (ex. the original installation date)
    • Communicated the new opportunities these meters will provide to
      customers and Austin Energy

                                                                                 18
        Few Customer Complaints
    Since the installation, Austin Energy has received a low
     percentage of calls related to the new automated meters.
     Customers who question their bills can request a meter
     check, and Austin Energy will send a certified technician to
     test the meters according to industry standards.


   10,743 (3.8%) customers whose meters were exchanged
    called with questions about the new meters or high
    consumption.
   Only 231 requested meter accuracy tests.
   Out of the 231 meters tested, only 25 were exchanged.
                                                                19
20
Summary
   Customer Response to AMR metering
   Problems uncovered
   Lessons Learned
   Where AE is Headed (Near Term)




                                        21
     Customer Response to AMR Metering

   Austin Energy has NOT received a significant number of calls relating
    to the new automated meters
   Customers can request the accuracy of their meter be checked
   Austin Energy sends a technician out to test meter
   In April 2010, Austin Energy reviewed customer call logs & SO
   In past 2 years, while the AMR meters were being exchanged:
    ◦ 10,743 (3.8% of 280,000) customers whose meters were being
      exchanged called with questions about the new meters or high
      consumption
    ◦ After talking with AE Special Team of AMR-trained CSRs, only 231
      requested meter accuracy tests
    ◦ Out of the 231 meters tested, 25 were exchanged

                                                                            22
 Problems uncovered #1

Installers Should
Display Company Logos
Installers should wear
Company ID Badges
Clothing should have
Logos (Shirts, Hats)
Vehicles should also be
marked with Logos




                           23
           Problems uncovered #2
   Billing Routes used to exchange meters
    created logistical problems
    ◦ Bill routes not geographic
    ◦ Confusion of skipping houses, meters in banks
    ◦ Contract Installers didn’t like this




                                                  24
           Problems uncovered #3
   Number of special appointments required
    exchange meters
    ◦ AE made appointments if installers
      encountered
      Dogs
      Locked gates with no codes
      Home improvements blocking meters
      Secured areas
      Customer refused entry


                                           25
                Problems uncovered #4

Metering Issues
 Older Stock of meters contained Mercury
    ◦ AE created hazardous materials disposal process for
      contract installers
   Individual Site issues
    ◦ AE provided cash incentives to installers to ID
      installation problems so that AE could correct
       3-phase to 2-phase needed special-ordered base
       Meter banks installed upside-down (meters run
        backwards)
       Code compliance issues
       Creative tampering situations
                                                            26
           Problems uncovered #5
   Changing Entire Meter Stock
    ◦ Non-AMR to AMR meters
    ◦ AMR to AMR with Auto-registration
    ◦ Segregate old stock
    ◦ Mark new meters
    ◦ Create ways to verify status
    ◦ Stock in Inventory in warehouses, on
      installers’ trucks, shipments arriving


                                               27
            Problems uncovered #6
   GPS coordinates are CRUTIAL for
    automated meters
    ◦ Train your installers to synch GPS device at the
      meter, not in the warehouse.




                                                         28
Lessons Learned
 Communications and coordination are CRITICAL –
  both internal and external
 Auto-registration is the way to go
   ◦ Correct GPS is crucial
 Expect EVERY business process to be affected by AMR
  meters & data
   ◦ Really, Every Process
 Develop Extensive Testing & Quality Control processes
 Develop Change Management processes to ID & define
  problem, create work-around, document fix
  implementation process

                                                      29
More Lessons Learned
   Track everything (meters, software
    upgrades, linked systems)
    ◦ Be able to identify new meters physically and
      electronically
    ◦ new meter codes for meter models, program
      versions & functionality
    ◦ Color-coded name plate labels
    ◦ Develop post-deployment process to manage radio &
      meter inventories when exchanging AMR meters
   Take pictures of exchanged (old) meter dials

                                                      30
Smart Meter Deployment Timeline

March 2008
• Cross Dock Call Center was developed
• Communication began

April 2008
• Meter installation began

May 2008
• Community outreach increased due to large number of installations

May 2010
• Majority of meters were installed

What’s next:
• NEW PROCESSES, a time of change…


                                                                      31
Questions?




             32

				
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posted:10/10/2011
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