Airdrie natural gas meters to get technology face lift from ATCO Gas
ATCO Gas is upgrading local natural gas meters with a new automated meter reading (AMR) system. The new devices will use small, battery-powered radio transmitters that attach to existing meters and will allow readings to be to be captured with a vehicle-mounted computer system.
Graeme Feltham, ATCO Gas vice president technical services and chief engineer, said there are two primary reasons for the upgrade.
“First, we and our customers prefer a bill that is based on actual meter readings and not an estimate,” he said, adding sometimes locked gates, dogs, snow or customer availability can prevent exact readings from being captured.
The second reason for the change is convenience for customers because meter readers will no longer have to bother residents, Feltham said.
“Installation takes usually less than 10 minutes,” Feltman said, adding if access to resident homes or businesses is required an appointment will be arranged for installation.
The upgrades began this week and approximately 15,000 meters will be converted to the AMR system by the end of April.
Once the upgrades are completed, customers will no longer see ATCO Gas meter readers manually collecting readings. Instead readings will be collected via the AMR system without ATCO Gas employees having to leave their vehicle.
The change over will not cost residents anything as ATCO is absorbing the costs and the meters themselves will not look much different, Feltham said.
“For the most part most customers won’t even notice (the change),” he said adding that very little resident feedback was received when 13,000 Cochrane meters were changed to the AMR system in 2011.
Feltham said across the province ATCO Gas had about 200 permanent meter readers prior to the switch and they have been moving these employees into new opportunities within the company.
“That part has been going great,” he said.
The technology for the AMR devices is not all new and Feltham said it has proven effective in other communities.