Automatic Meter Reading: Link between Meters and Billing Service (Combined Utilities Trial)
This report was produced for the Urban Water Research Association of Australia, a now discontinued research program.
Report no. UWRAA 52
A combined automatic meter reading trial between forty customers and a model corporate billing centre was carried out over a period of six months commencing in early 1992. The aim of the project was to trial a common transmission link between the household data collection unit and the corporate billing centre. This link carried meter reading data for the State Electricity Commission of Victoria, Gas and Fuel Corporation of Victoria and Melbourne Water (formerly Board of Works).
The provision of a remote real time data collection facility to residential premises, provides the opportunity for the introduction of more complex tariffs structures, such as “time of use” and seasonal tariffs at no additional meter reading cost. The introduction of these tariff structures enables the Utilities to influence their customer’s usage to achieve both short and long term demand management goals.
Two sites, located east of the Melbourne Central Business District, were selected for the trial. The twenty customers in Hampton Park were connected via an electricity distribution line carrier system provided by Nilsen Industrial Electronics. The system located in the Mount Dandenong area was supplied by Siemens and was connected via a radio paging network and the standard telephone network.
The trial was technically successful as meter readings were collected on a daily basis from all customers as well as hourly consumption readings from a limited number of customers. The trial also provided invaluable operational data on the problems associated with the installation, commissioning and operation of a remote residential data collection facility.
The financial analysis provides valuable data in regard to the installation costs and the trial experience indicates a need to develop a dedicated installation team able to carry out all of the work associated with the installation and therefore contain the labour costs.
The customer response to the trial was favourable and the majority of the trial customers were able to identify benefits in an AMR system.