5.4 Million AMR units installed this year

AMRA’s July 1998 Trials & Installations Update reflects growth in the automatic meter reading (AMR) industry as US states and countries around the world move toward a competitive utility service market.

The update, which includes projects launched or significantly altered since January, is the largest mid-year report AMRA has produced in its 11-year history. It provides details about 75 deployments at 73 utilities in North and South America, Europe and the Pacific Rim, comprising more than 5.4 million units.

Deployments include 35 projects that were announced in 1998, while more than 30 utility representatives indicate expansions of existing trials and installations.

Anglian Water, based in Huntington, England, reports the update’s largest single project – the installation of a 2 million point radio and fixed-network radio system scheduled to begin in November after a year long trial. A joint development between Logica UK and the utility, the system is designed to enable tariffing, detect leakage and tampering, improve billing accuracy and provide demand management.

Only one other recently announced installation tops the 1 million mark. Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority intends to deploy a 1.3 million unit power-line communications (PLC) system throughout its island service territory. The utility also plans to use the system for distribution automation, load management, real-time reads and outage and tamper detection.

Another impressive project is the installation of a 700 000 unit fixed-network radio system at Puget Sound Energy. More than 14 000 meters were on-line by June, project managers say, and the utility uses remotely collected meter data for billing.

ELECTRIC UTILITY DEPLOYMENTS SOAR

Electric utilities report the majority of deployment activity, with 51 projects at 49 utilities representing 68% of all AMR activity – three times the number of projects reported in AMRA’s July 1997 Trials & Installations Update. Of these, 35 projects are installations of nearly 1.7 million units and 16 are trials of 3 685 units. Twenty-five are new projects that comprise nearly 1.5 million units.

However, only four projects – three that employ PLC and one that uses a combination of dial inbound and PLC – are installations of more than 20 000 units.

Electric utility listings indicate PLC as the technology of choice in 31 projects involving nearly 1.6 million units. Other deployments include nine hybrid systems that combine PLC with either telephone or radio technologies, as well as five dial-inbound systems, four radio systems, one dial-outbound system and one two-way telephone system.

Water utilities include 17 projects composed of 14 installations of 2.6 million units and three trials of 2078 units. Half these projects are new deployments involving about 470 000 units.

With the exception of Anglian Water and the Philadelphia Water Department, water projects are deployments of less than 35 000 units. The Philadelphia Water Department plans to have its 473 000 unit mobile-radio system in place by the end of 1999.

Radio is the most popular technology among water utility project managers, with six projects of 66 200 units. Five utility representatives report deployments of hybrid radio systems, three select mobile radio and one conducts a trial of fixed-network radio. One water utility is overseeing a joint installation of a dial-inbound telephone system; another is installing a two-way telephone system.

Combination utilities report three installations of 1.1 million units and two trials of 1290 units. Two projects employ PLC technology, two use fixed network radio and one is a radio trial. Three projects, which total 1.1 million units, were announced in the past six months.

The Puget Sound Energy project is the largest combination utility installation, but a second notable deployment is the 415 000 unit installation of a fixed network radio system at Indianapolis Power & Light Co. Utility leaders indicate they intend to use the system to meet the data processing requirements of a competitive marketplace, as well as provide additional services to customers.

Gas utilities report the least AMR activity, with only two installations of 28 880 units. Both use radio technology. One deployment – a targeted 380 point system – represents the efforts of an Australian gas utility to uphold regulatory requirements in the country’s restructured gas industry. Beginning in September, gas utilities in the state of Victoria will be required to collect hourly reads for large customers.

MANY DEPLOYMENTS USE PLC

The high level of activity at electric utilities results in a large number of PLC deployments. Project managers at 33 utilities, about 44% of all update participants, oversee PLC trials and installations comprising nearly 1.6 million units.

Nine of the 14 utilities that report deployments of hybrid systems are PLC based, totalling 39 785 units. The remaining five hybrid systems are radio-based systems to more than 2 million sites.

Thirteen utilities are deploying radio technology to 117 955 sites, three are deploying mobile-radio systems to 483 500 sites and three are deploying fixed-network radio for more than 1.1 million customers. Meanwhile utilities report six deployments of dial-inbound AMR comprising 20 154 units, two bi-directional telephone deployments at 17 225 units and one dial-outbound trial of 25 units.

COMPILING THE 1998 UPDATE

The July 1998 Trials & Installations Update is a compilation of pilots and installations deployed or significantly altered since the publication of the January 1998 Trials & Installations Report, as well as ongoing projects that have never appeared in any AMRA report. It does not list unchanged deployments that appeared in previous AMRA reports.

Representatives of utilities and utility service companies verify all data. AMRA’s reports and updates do not represent a cumulative total of all AMR deployments, only ongoing projects at utilities that choose to report deployment details.

For information about how to order copies of previously printed reports or to report information about advanced metering, automation or communications projects for inclusion in future AMRA reports, contact AMRA headquarters at 60 Revere Drive, Suite 500, Northbrook Il. 60062, USA. Phone +1 847 480 9628, fax +1 847 480 9282, e-mail amra@amrahq.com.