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Austin Water launches smart-meter testing

Wednesday, February 17, 2016 by Nora Ankrum

Austin Water will begin testing smart meters this month on a group of 150 randomly selected homes in the River Place neighborhood in Northwest Austin. Smart meters differ from traditional water meters in that the utility can monitor them remotely rather than having to send meter readers to customers’ houses or businesses periodically to record the data in person. According to an announcement from AW, “This offers more timely data to encourage conservation and allow customers and the utility to monitor water use, including the ability to quickly identify water loss sooner and reduce the risk of meter-read inaccuracies.” During Phase 1 of the testing, the utility will be gauging the accuracy of the meters; during Phase 2, customers will be able to monitor their own daily water usage online and provide feedback about the system; and during Phase 3, AW will integrate the new meters into its billing system. Even then, it may still be a while before other AW customers get their own smart meters. According to AW’s announcement, “Smart meter technology is varied and costly when considering 200 thousand-plus meters and will take some time to fully implement into the current system.” Nonetheless, the announcement concludes, “We are encouraged that a thorough evaluation process in cooperation with our customers will help make smart meters a reality that will provide us all with long lasting benefits.”

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