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Subject:   Seattle To Test New Electricity, Water Metering Technology
For Immediate Release:   
5/22/2006  10:00:00 AM
For More Information Contact:
Scott Thomsen  (206) 386-4233


Seattle To Test New Electricity, Water Metering Technology


SEATTLE- A City of Seattle pilot project, just getting under way, will test new technology for reading electric and water meters remotely. The new metering system will make it easier for customers to conserve and for utilities to provide higher levels of service.

The City of Seattle has signed a contract with Cellnet Technology, Inc. to equip new residences and businesses in the South Lake Union and Denny Triangle areas with automated meter reading (AMR) devices. Installation will begin this year, and the pilot will test the AMR system with the first 500 meters in early 2007. With successful testing, full deployment for all customers in these two areas will be carried out over the next several years.

Another AMR pilot, already under way in West Seattle, is examining the benefit of monthly versus bimonthly billing for residential customers in the Seattle Housing Authority’s redeveloped High Point community.

The new meters in South Lake Union/Denny Triangle feature two-way radio frequency modules that will relay consumption and power quality information back to the utility’s main computers. Customers eventually will have access to hourly or more detailed consumption data, allowing them to understand and manage their energy use.

"City Light is dedicated to providing services that our customers want and deserve," said City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco. "We are exploring cost-effective technologies that can help our customers make environmentally-sound choices about energy use."

As the City expands its use of the AMR system, customers will have more billing options, such as choosing billing dates to match paydays, consolidating bills from multiple locations or consolidating billing for multiple services, like electricity, water, sewer and garbage. Customers could get advance notice about potential high bills, or be alerted to unusually high consumption from leaky faucets or toilets. The meters can tell City Light immediately when customers have lost power and who remains out as restoration work takes place.

"Seattle has followed a rigorous evaluation process in making this decision," said City Light AMR Project Manager Linda Lockwood. "We engaged Plexus Research, nationally recognized experts in AMR technology and the AMR business case process. Their tools and competence have helped us develop an excellent plan."

The pilot project targets the city’s rapidly developing biotechnology corridor of South Lake Union and the Denny Triangle, where the number of meters is expected to triple between now and 2020. During the pilot, the city will evaluate the ability of the system to collect and transmit data in a downtown area with dense, high-rise development.

Current economic analysis of the AMR system in the project area indicates that the benefits can be provided without an increase in utility costs over the life of the system. More study is planned to determine the economics of expanding the system to the rest of the service territory.
 

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