YOUR NEW WATER & ELECTRIC METERS and the AMI SYSTEM
The City of Port Angeles will replace customers' electric and water meters with “smart meters.” More than two-thirds of existing meters within the City are well over their expected service life—the oldest was installed in 1957. The new meters are extremely accurate, fairly measure what each customer uses and provide new possibilities for managing our water and power resources.
The new meters need an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system to fully use their “smart” potential. AMI allows the meters to send overall use readings through the City's protected wireless network. Based on those readings, the AMI system provides information on utility bills that helps customers manage their electricity and water consumption if they choose to do so. The City uses AMI to analyze use patterns across our community, helping us manage our resources far better than we can with the existing manual system.
Weighing all available options, the City determined in 2010 that transition to an AMI system is the most sensible course for our community in the short-term and in the long run.
We started installing the meters and AMI system in 2011. The work continues, although the pace is slower than expected. To diagnose and resolve technology and other issues causing delays, the Public Works and Utilities Department hired an outside contractor with AMI expertise (approved by City Council on October 15, 2013). Updates on the findings and project schedule will be provided on this page and through direct communications with customers.
February 4, 2014 City Council Presentation - West Monroe Partners AMI Overview Document FAQ City Update on Status of AMI Metering Project
Reading the New Meters
Once the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system is in place, the new meters will send usage information directly to the City through a secure wireless network. We will continue to use City personnel to manually read all the meters (new and old) until the AMI System is completely installed and passes all accuracy tests.
New electric and water meters are already in place for residents of the northwest corner of Port Angeles—about 850 households. Once that part of the system passes a series of tests, we will install new meters for the rest of the City's residents, neighborhood by neighborhood.
When the schedule is available for the next phase of meter installations, the City will update homeowners in their bills and on this website page. We will let you know well in advance when the new meters are coming to your neighborhood. Then, we will alert you with a door hanger at your home within a few days of when your meters will be installed. For most people, no preparation is required. You do not have to be home during installation.
The City will work out a plan with people that rely on life-sustaining medical equipment requiring a continuous source of power during installation.
Billing, Rates and AMI
Your utility bill shows how much electricity and water you used in the current month compared to the same month last year. Your electricity cost is calculated by multiplying the amount of electricity you used, as measured by your meter, times the current published rate per kWh (kilowatt hour).
The City of Port Angeles buys all the electricity used within the city from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). The BPA raised electricity rates in 2011 resulting in higher costs for all power users in Port Angeles starting in January, 2012. The BPA raised rates again in late 2013; new customer rates start in January, 2014.
When the AMI System is up and running your bill will include additional information to help you manage costs.
Information about Future Rates
Security & Privacy
Since the inception of its electric utility more than 120 years ago, the City of Port Angeles has never voluntarily released personally identifiable customer information to any third party. The City of Port Angeles does not sell or provide any customer information to any third party for its commercial benefit. Our policy and legal obligation to protect personal information will remain in force after the AMI System is installed.
Information about your utility use is private and protected by law. The City of Port Angeles takes its responsibility seriously and has many safeguards in place to protect your information. Our system provides security at a level similar to online and mobile banking.
The City receives information about the overall amount of electricity and water used by each customer. The new meters are not capable of identifying or sending information to the City about a particular appliance within someone's home.
Click HERE for the City of Port Angeles' Complete City On-Line Privacy and Security Policy .
Safety and Radio Frequency (RF) Energy
The City's “smart meters” use radio signals (RF energy) to send overall water and electricity usage information to a nearby City-operated collection device. Typically, the signal transmits once a day for under 2 seconds. The meters use the same type of energy as your cellular phone and mobile WiFi (wireless) devices—but only when actively communicating.
Other familiar appliances that use RF signals to work are: garage door openers, baby monitors, cellular and wireless telephones, televisions and radios, microwave ovens and WiFi (wireless) internet connections. “Smart meters” are far simpler than “smart phones” so they produce much less RF energy when operating.
The City routinely measures RF energy associated with its wireless networks, including the new meters, using a procedure consistent with United States FCC (Federal Communications Commission) procedures. The City's smart meter and WiFi networks operate far below the FCC standards with RF levels consistently measured at 500,000 times lower than what the FCC allows.
What does this mean in terms of ensuring safety?
The City's smart meter RF emissions are lower than the United States', Canadian and Western Europe's standards. They are also lower than Switzerland's established RF standard, which is even more cautious than those listed here.
The City of Port Angeles is confident in the existing FCC regulations that conclude our citizens' health is not at risk by typical and appropriate use of this technology.
“Smart meter” radio frequency emissions have been studied extensively by city, regional and national organizations. Follow these links to read the results and conclusions of representative reports:
Facts and Scientific Studies about RF, which includes links to source informationInformation about the AMI System Meters Radio-Frequency Emissions Radio Frequency Emissions From Mueller Systems' meters
The City's AMI Partner
Mueller Systems was selected through a competitive process in 2011 to provide and install our new electric and water meters and part of the technology that makes up the AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure) System. Mueller Systems is part of Mueller Water Products, Inc. which has a 150-year history of providing utility services.
The overall cost of the new meters and AMI system is $5.4 million. Our contract with Mueller Systems is for $4.38 million.
The City remains on-budget with the original cost estimate for installing all new electric and water meters, and the infrastructure needed to make the system work as intended.
In October, 2013 the City authorized an additional $86,500 for expert consulting to diagnose and resolve technology and other issues that have delayed AMI implementation.
Cost document (check back, available soon)
Installation and Progress Updates
October 31, 2013 – Phase I meter installation is complete. That means about 1,000 residences within the northwest corner of the City have the new electric and water meters. The technology to run the system is installed. The City and the vendor have run into technical issues and are working on solutions to make the system fully operational.
Although residents can't take full advantage of the system yet, some have reported benefits like being able to identify a water leak. In one case, a home owner requested a usage report because of a high water bill. The report indicated the date when the amount of their water use increased dramatically. This information helped the home owner track down and repair the source of the leak.
Testing of the new meters is underway. The City must approve the testing results before authorizing installation of meters for the rest of the City's residents, which is Phase II.
The completion date for Phase I testing and review of the results is not currently known. A new Phase II installation schedule will be announced when the City is confident all systems are ready to move forward.
We will provide an update by the end of 2013.
In the mean time, the City continues to replace the oldest meters at the same rate we always have. As of mid-2013, around 2,000 electric and 1,000 water “smart meters” are in place throughout the City.