Automatic Meter Reading Research
For about a year we've been researching automatic meter read (AMR) systems. Because our neighboring communities to the north and south have also been going through this process, we decided to combine our efforts and collaborate on the research. So as a group we've met with several vendors over the course of the past year. Today we all got together to summarize our findings and to discuss where we go from here. We decided to call in one of the vendors to discuss a few of the options we thought about pursuing. Although I think the AMR technology is awesome and very much enjoy researching the options, what has really been rewarding has been the opportunity to work with the other cities on this project. Like my co-workers, the staff in these cities are very knowledgeable, professional, and great to work with.
Special Service Areas (SSA)
Later in the day a few of our staff met to continue the discussion about creating an SSA for a certain area in our community. Again, these SSAs help provide a funding vehicle for improving a specific subdivision. Although we dont' always levy taxes in each SSA, it's still good to have it in place in case the neighborhood needs to have maintenance or work done within the common areas of their subdivision.
Permits and Development
One of the utilities in our area is still trying to get a line installed in our downtown area. They submitted a new plan showing where they want to install their line, but they showed no other utilities on the drawing. So I had to let them know I cannot really review it without knowing where the other utilities are. On Monday, I'll have to make a copy of our utility maps for that area and send them to the utility so they can add them to the drawings. I also worked a little bit with a development that has re-submitted plans for review. We are still waiting for them to resolve the location of the electric so I could not move forward with their approval this week. Hopefully it will be resolved next week so I can complete by review.
Welcome to Day 9 – a day filled mostly with emails and meetings which is ok because it helped me take care of a lot of correspondence and make a pretty big dent in my emails.
Parking Lot Meeting
This morning a few of us met with the consultant who is designing the lighting for the new parking lot we are planning for our downtown. The project engineer on staff has finished most of the other design elements, and others have worked on contacting adjacent owners and working out preliminary, verbal agreements. And as I mentioned yesterday, our city attorney now has the legal documents to begin working on finalizing these agreements. So the main task remaining is the lighting design, well that and getting our special use. So we first met at our office to discuss the design, then we went out to the site to look at conditions there. While there, we saw one of the adjacent property owners and were able to update them on where we are at in the process. They also helped answer some questions we had about some storm basins near their property that looked abandoned.
Most of the afternoon was spent meeting with a smart meter provider. We have been researching the implementation of a smart grid system in our city for some time. Right now we mostly have the older model of dial reads mounted on homes. Our meter readers walk the routes inputting these reads into handhelds then download the reads to a computer. Billing then picks up these reads with their software to generate the bills. The dial reads have become obsolete so we need to replace them with something so it only makes sense to upgrade to smart meters. I implemented an automatic meter read system in the last city where I worked, and it proved to be very beneficial. And now the technology has advanced to the point that I think a smart meter system here will offer us significant benefits.
Because the two cities lying adjacent to us are also looking at implementing these types of systems, we have been pooling our efforts and meeting as a group with vendors. So far we have explored about five different providers of these systems. I've been disappointed with most of them though because I eventually expected these vendors to realize their systems can offer much more than just raw data. But so far only one vendor has realized this and offers services addressing the operational side and not just the billing. The one we looked at today seemed to be one of those taking the traditional data-collector-only approach.
I also had a person from the railroad stop by to discuss some repair work they want to schedule for some time in September. They needed to discuss the work with us and have me sign a statement indicating I was aware they would be pursuing a permit from IDOT for the work. They will be closing a state route to do this, so we reviewed their detour and offered some suggestions.