Advanced Metering Infrastructure

What is Advanced Metering Infrastructure and smart meters? 

Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), also known as “smart metering” systems, are wireless communication networks that provide two-way communication between a water meter and a utility supplier.  Smart meters are used in the electric, gas and water industries and replace the traditional manual meter reading systems where someone walks door-to-door to read water meters.

Why is Wyoming installing an AMI system?

Wyoming is modernizing its meter reading infrastructure and enhancing customer service.  The AMI system helps Wyoming operate more efficiently and provides numerous benefits to customers, including:

  1. Faster customer service and response time
  2. Fewer estimated bills
  3. Data to help resolve usage and billing questions
  4. Fewer future visits to a customer’s property
  5. Near real-time water usage information instead of quarterly water meter reads
  6. Ability to set water alerts for high flow, low flow, and other features to more quickly identify potential water use problems and save money.

Combining the AMI installation with the State required water service line inspection and water meter changeout creates significant savings, as these three otherwise separate visits can be accomplished at one time in one visit.

What AMI system is being installed in Wyoming?

Wyoming will be using a Sensus AMI system; visit https://sensus.com/solutions/advanced-metering-infrastructure-ami/ for more details.  This Sensus system is also being installed in the City of Grand Rapids.

How does AMI work?

Currently, all water meters are read manually via a touchpad located on the outside of each water users building.  This touchpad is wired to the water meter.  In the AMI system, a new “smart” endpoint will be installed over the existing touchpad.  This endpoint will transmit meter reading information every four to six hours over a licensed FCC frequency, for a fraction of a second, to an antenna located on water towers in the City.  This information is stored in a secure location and made available to both the water user and the City.   The following diagram provides an overview of the process:

What does the new endpoint look like?
All old (existing) touchpads will be replaced with new endpoints.  The old and new are shown below:
AMI Before   AMI After
Existing touchpad   New endpoint

 

What color is the endpoint and can I paint it?

The stock endpoint color is off-white; it can be painted but not removed.

Where and how will the endpoint be installed?

The endpoint will be installed over the existing touchpad location on the outside of the building.  Some installations may require redoing the wiring connecting the meter to the endpoint.  In these cases, the new endpoint may be installed inside the basement near the water meter.

Can I move the endpoint if I don’t like where it is installed or if I need to re-side my house?

The new endpoints will be installed over the old touchpad location as often as possible.  If it needs to be moved, please contact the Utility Billing office to schedule an appointment (616) 530-7389.

What information is transmitted over the wireless network?

Transmitted information includes the water meter reading, meter ID number, endpoint ID number, any usage alarms, and GPS location of the endpoint.  No personal or account information is transmitted over the fixed (closed) wireless network.

How and when is it transmitted?

The information is transmitted over a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) licensed frequency to one of two antennas located throughout the City.  These antennas are located on water towers.  Residential water meters can transmit information four to six times per day.  Commercial water usage information may be transmitted more frequently.  When the transmission occurs, it is for a fraction of a second in length.  Throughout the course of a year the total transmission length is less than two minutes.

Is the transmission harmful?

Numerous studies have been conducted to address public health concerns about AMI systems.  In general, exposure to a smart meter radio frequency is significantly less than exposure to other emitting products such as wi-fi networks, cell phones, walkie-talkies, baby monitors, or microwaves.

Following are several sources of information related to radio frequency health impacts:

Federal Communications Commission:
Electric Power Research Institute:
California Council on Science and Technology:
Are other utilities or communities installing AMI?

Nearly 100% of electric meters in Wyoming are smart meters.  Nearly 100% of gas meters are considered Advanced Meter Reading (AMR) capable, meaning the meters are read when a vehicle with a collector antenna drives past the meter.

Locally, the City of Grand Rapids is also embarking on an AMI project with Sensus.  Regionally, the Cities of Holland, Grand Haven, Battle Creek, Saginaw and Kalamazoo have an AMI system for water meters, as do Georgetown and Delta Townships.  The Byron Gaines Utility Authority, Spring Lake and Grand Haven Townships have an AMR system. 

AMI and smart meters have been installed in the United States since the late 1980’s.  The US Energy Information Administration estimates that there are over 70.8 million AMI electric installations in the United States as of 2016 (https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=108&t=3).  Some reports estimate that, as of 2014, 14% of all water utility customers have AMI water meters (http://www.waterworld.com/articles/print/volume-31/issue-12/water-utility-management/smart-water-networks-maximize-the-benefits-of-ami.html).

How is the new endpoint powered?

The new endpoint is battery powered with an expected life of 20 years.

Will I have to pay extra for the new endpoint?

No.  Equipment and installation costs will not be charged to a customer.

Will my water service be disrupted during this installation?

Unless your water meter is also being replaced, you will not lose water service during the AMI installation.

Can I look up my information on my computer or smart phone?

Yes.  We are currently working with Sensus to develop a specific website where a Wyoming water customer can create an account and view usage information.  This is expected to be operational by March of 2020.  Once the website is operational, we will post the link.  Please check back in early 2020 for this feature.

Should I be worried about privacy?

No.  No personally identifiable information is transmitted from the endpoint.  Water usage information is transmitted across the fixed network and stored on secure servers.  The existing utility billing software will access this information for billing purposes.  Only authorized utility billing office staff can access your account, if needed, as they have in the past. Sensus cybersecurity information can be found here.

How do I know that the information transmitted is from my meter and no one else?

The new endpoint is directly wired to the meter.  Upon installation, technicians record the meter and endpoint information using bar-code scanning systems.  This information is electronically transferred into the utility billing software to virtually eliminate human error.

Who will be installing the AMI system?

The AMI endpoints will be installed by Wyoming Public Services staff.  Please ask to see their ID prior to entry to verify that they are from the City of Wyoming.

Will my water meter need to be changed out?

Approximately 50% of the water meters are being changed out as part of the larger infrastructure improvements project.  The typical life of a residential water meter is 20 years, and the typical life of a commercial/industrial water meter is 10 years.

Will my water bill go up?

Possibly.  If your water meter is old, it will be replaced.  Water meters tend to lose accuracy with age and may run either faster or slower.  Your water bill may go up or down as a result of having a new, more accurate water meter.  Additionally, annual rate increases typically occur in September of each year (https://www.wyomingmi.gov/About-Wyoming/City-Departments/Treasurer/Utilities).

When will I get AMI installed?

The project is expected to be implemented in two major phases and be complete by January 1, 2025. 

The first phase will primarily include commercial and industrial water customers and is expected to be complete by June 30, 2021.  Residential water customers may also be included if the City is already in the residence performing other work (such as repairing a water service or responding to a sewer backup).

The second phase will include all residential water customers and must be complete by January 1, 2025.

If you would like AMI installed sooner, please contact the Utility Billing office at (616) 530-7389 to schedule an appointment.

Can I opt out of this upgrade?

We strongly discourage it.  If you choose to opt out, Wyoming will have to manually read your meter and you will be subject to a service charge.  If you are considering opting out and would like more information, please contact a team member at the Utility Billing office, (616) 530-7389.

Who do I call if I have questions about AMI?

Please call the Utility Billing office at (616) 530-7389.