Two years ago the city of Hamilton in Ohio began a programme of estimating reads of electricity, water and gas customers every alternate month, in order to save costs. If the estimates differ from actual usage, the customer is either given a credit on his next bill, or charged for the extra consumption.
Complaints arise, however, when estimations differ widely from actual usage. This is particularly the case in buildings where there are multiple tenants; a change in occupant can result in a dramatic change in consumption of power or water.
The city is also aware that many of the installed meters have not been changed for many years, and could be reading slow as a result. Staff are also of the opinion that tampering is on the increase. All these instances lead to the need to investigate the introduction of an AMR system, and the city managers have visited another site which also operates its own electricity, water and gas utilities. A wireless AMR system recently installed there is expected to pay for itself within six years.
Itron Inc, and VSI Meter Services are both developing a business plan for Hamilton, which the city will evaluate shortly.