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606 Irving Street
Beatrice, NE 68310
Rural Electric Systems are…Working for Nebraska
Customers to Reap Benefits of AMI Technology
Bruce Vitosh--General Manager and CEO
New and improved technologies continue to develop rapidly and have an impact on our lives. These innovations seem endless and include advances in most everything from smart phones, flying drones, global positioning systems (GPS), healthcare, robotics, etc. Technological advances have also impacted the electric utility industry. It is important that the District become familiar with new developments and only implement those technologies that are proven and provide value to District customers and operations.
Since the late 1980s, the District has used a Power Line Carrier (PLC) based Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system to read substation, industrial and commercial metering systems. A District wide expansion of this system to read all meters was never implemented since the costs outweighed the benefits. This system is also currently used to provide load management for irrigation and electric water heaters. As you may surmise with this vintage of technology, the vendor no longer provides acceptable support for the system. Therefore, over three years ago, the District began extensively evaluating a new AMI system to meet the District’s existing needs and to also provide additional benefits for both our customers and daily operations.
AMI is not a single technology, but rather an integration of many technologies. AMI systems collect and report available electric meter information, such as electric consumption and demand through a secure two-way communication system between the customer’s meter and the District offices. After extensive research and evaluation, the District believes the improved technology in radio communications provides the best communication option for the District’s AMI system.
The evaluation of AMI included a pilot program that was implemented in July 2013. In the southern portion of the District’s service area, 115 existing meters were replaced with new AMI meters allowing the District to test hardware, software and equipment. District personnel worked closely with the manufacturer which led to some enhancements to the AMI system being evaluated.
Once the new AMI system is operational, all customers will no longer be required to read their electric meters. Hourly electrical usage data will be available for customers to review with access to their online account. Outages will be reported immediately, allowing for improved outage restoration times. From an operations standpoint, the District will be able to operate and design the electrical distribution system more effectively through the collection and review of electrical usage and demand collected through the AMI system.
At the November 4, 2015 Board meeting, the Norris Directors approved the purchase of the AMI system and equipment from Eaton’s Cooper Power Systems. District personnel have commenced installing radio communication equipment. The District plans to utilize a metering installation contractor to replace all meters and load management devices throughout the District beginning this summer. It is expected to take at least one year to complete this massive undertaking.
The District is committed to utilizing new and improved methods of providing better service to customers and to improve operational efficiencies only if these new technologies can be implemented in a cost effective manner. More details and status updates regarding the AMI project will be communicated through future Norris Electric News Magazines, Norris Electronic Newsletters and other direct communication with customers.
Customer Benefits of AMI
Customers will no longer be required to submit their meter readings, thus saving time, postage and phone calls.
Customers who live elsewhere during the winter will receive a bill that reflects their actual monthly usage rather than an estimate.
Customers will not have to wait for their bill to see their energy consumption as customers will have immediate access to their usage data online.
Billing errors, estimates and disputes will be reduced with accurate and consistently recorded meter readings.
Prepaid metering may be implemented, allowing customers to avoid a meter deposit requirement and purchase power on an as needed basis. Prepaid metering provides the customer with greater control of their usage and more flexibility in making smaller payments throughout the month instead of one larger monthly payment.
Infrequently, a meter does fail and ceases to accurately record all of the energy consumed. AMI will provide for early detection of meter failure and require less estimation of usage for a more accurate billing of actual energy consumed.
AMI will provide early detection of electric distribution facility problems and hardware failures, leading to improved service.
Outage restoration times will improve as instantaneous and specific outage location information will be reported, which will benefit District personnel who respond to outages.
Individual electric service outages may be identified and possibly restored prior to a customer returning home.
Irrigation services may be billed using demand readings rather than relying on horsepower capacity charges. Using demand readings will more accurately reflect customers’ use of the electric distribution facilities.
Customer service personnel will be able to immediately process disconnect, reconnect and transfer of services for customers.
Precise data will be available for use in energy audits requested by customers.
For customers who receive an annual bill for seasonal services, electric service issues may be identified on a timely basis.
AMI will enable the District to detect electric blinks, which may enable corrective action before an outage occurs.
With the ability to read meters remotely, the District will save a significant amount of vehicle miles and employees’ time traveling to customers’ meters to obtain meter readings.
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Outage Phone Numbers
If you experience a power outage, please report it to the appropriate number below:
Thayer & Jefferson Counties
Local (402) 768-6515
or (402) 729-3835
Toll Free 1-800-827-8099
Lancaster & Saline Counties
Local (402) 423-3855
or (402) 826-2517
Toll Free 1-800-743-3899
Local (402) 223-4038
Toll Free 1-800-858-4707
Interactive Service Area Map
The Nebraska Power Review Board is pleased to announce the creation of an interactive online digital map that shows every Nebraska electric power supplier's certified service area.