Jack Partridge,
President,
Columbia Gas of Ohio
 
Columbus, OH, U.S.A. --- (METERING.COM) --- June 3, 2009 - Columbia Gas of Ohio has announced a statewide upgrade of the company’s residential and commercial natural gas meters. Beginning this month, Columbia will kick off a program to install automated meter reading (AMR) devices on most of its customers’ natural gas meters.

The project, involving Itron’s AMR technology on nearly 1.4 million gas meters, is expected to take five years, beginning in northwest Ohio and then moving into other areas of the state. The majority of the work will be performed by a Columbia Gas contractor, which will supplement its workforce through local hiring.

Installation of this new technology was authorized by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio as part of Columbia’s recently approved base rate case.

“The statewide installation of AMR will be a tremendous benefit to our customers,” said Columbia president Jack Partridge. “This technology, enabling us to do monthly meter readings, will eliminate estimated bills and meter access issues, two of the concerns we hear most frequently from our customers. And it will create jobs in Ohio.”

Itron mobile AMR systems, key to its ChoiceConnect™ AMR data collection suite, use a vehicle equipped with a portable radio transceiver and computer to gather consumption and tamper data from water, electricity and gas radio-based endpoints. Columbia will be deploying 40GB Gas ERT modules, and may utilize the 100G-series modules in selected areas. Utilizing 100G modules provides a seamless pathway from mobile to fixed network AMR, which in the future allows Columbia to seek the benefits of more frequent collection of metering data if desired.

The strategic partnership also allows for purchase of Itron gas meters, which offer simplified integration into AMR systems for a comprehensive, end-to-end solution.

Columbia Gas of Ohio is one of the nine energy distribution companies of NiSource Inc. and the largest natural gas utility in Ohio, serving approximately 1.4 million customers in 60 of the state’s 88 counties.