Redlands, USA, November 12, 2007: Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) technology, combined with GIS software, has significantly cut operating costs for meter reading at Unitil’s distribution operating subsidiaries in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. ESRI’s ArcGIS has given the utility greater insight about the behaviour of its customers, the integrity of its system, and the direction it should take for improved performance.
Unitil’s AMI incorporates ArcGIS to process data captured from a bidirectional advanced metering system as well as data accessed from the customer information system (CIS). Based on the first year’s success, Unitil anticipates a payback within five years in labour savings and process efficiencies.
In 2007, Unitil deployed a system wide gas and electric AMI for 115,000 customers. Meters were retrofitted with endpoints from Hunt Technologies, LLC, which utilize power line carrier, fixed network technology to monitor and receive daily usage data. AMI data layers are created by combining data from Unitil’s CIS database with GPS meter coordinates. This information is the basis for a variety of analyses useful to engineering and operations within the company.
“Viewing this data in GIS has led to an intuitive understanding of system performance,” notes Picardi. “Meters reporting a loss of communication have allowed us to research and better understand the need for an outage management system and how AMI can augment it. In addition to outages, GIS allows us to visualize momentary outages, end-of-line voltage readings, and reliability performance metrics directly from AMI.”