Meter replacement tips

I’m in the midst of assisting several customers with the migration to an automated meter reading system. All of these customers are moving to AMI systems and, in so doing, are changing out all of their meters.

One topic that seems to come up with every meter replacement project, whether it’s done by outside contractors or the utility’s own staff, is how to manage the process so it doesn’t interfere with billing.

I’ve written about this previously as part of a post about several things to consider when transitioning to an automated meter reading system. However, it’s an important enough topic to dedicate an entire issue to it.

When to start

The ideal time to start changing meters in a route is as soon as that route has been read and any re-reads have been completed. The goal is to have the entire route (or as many meters as possible) changed out before it’s time to read the route for the next billing period.

If all the meters in a route haven’t been replaced before reading again, this means having to read parts of the route two ways – the replaced meters with the new technology and the existing meters with the old process. From an operational efficiency perspective, this is clearly not an efficient use of your meter readers’ time.

Move new meters to a new route

Even if you expect to replace all the meters in a route before reading that route again, I still recommend moving the meters to a new route as they are replaced. For example, if you have routes 1 through 20, consider adding 100 to the route number as the meters are replaced. This way, you can always tell meters in route 120 were originally in route 20.

By doing so, it’s as simple as running a report of the original route number to determine which meters still need to be changed out. And, if you do have to read the route using both old and new technology, the meters are easily identified for each reading process.

Once all of your meters have been replaced, you can change the route numbers back to the original route numbers.

Is it time for an automated meter reading system?

Are you trying to determine if an automated meter reading system will be cost effective for your utility? Or have you made the decision to move forward and need assistance managing the project? Either way, please give me a call at 919-232-2320 or e-mail me at to learn how a business review could help.

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© 2019 Gary Sanders

Happy New Year 2019!

Happy New Year 2019! With Christmas and New Year’s Day both falling on Tuesdays this year, welcome to a Wednesday surprise on your first day of work in the new year!

This issue marks the eighth anniversary of the Utility Information Pipeline. If you’ve been with me from the very beginning (and many of you have!), this is the 194th issue you’ve received!

In the beginning, I had all kinds of ideas for topics for future newsletters. Now, eight years later, inspiration for new content isn’t as easy to come by. Many times, a conversation with a customer, a prospect, or a recent listserv post will serve as the source for a newsletter. Other weeks, the ideas don’t come so easily. With that in mind, I’m always looking for new ideas to write about so, if you have ideas or suggestions for a future topic, please feel free to email me!

If you have co-workers or colleagues from other utilities you feel would benefit from reading this newsletter, please take a minute to forward this to them and encourage them to subscribe.

Looking back on 2018

2018 marked the completion of the second bi-annual Utility Staffing Survey. The Utility Staffing Survey, like the Utility Fee Survey in odd number years, has become a regular feature in even numbered years.

If you want a quick refresher, here are links to the two results issues from the Utility Staffing Survey.

In 2018, I updated my personal website – www. This includes the Days of Exposure Calculator which has proven to be a valuable resource for utilities to determine if their security deposit is sufficient.

Listed below are the top five most frequently viewed blog posts in 2018, regardless of when the post was published:

  1. How much is your late fee?
  2. What are these barcodes on my bills?
  3. What is your leak adjustment policy?
  4. Do you have a cash handling policy?
  5. What’s a compound meter?

Here are the top five posts published in 2018:

  1. Are you tracking non-revenue water?
  2. Calculate your days of exposure
  3. 2018 Utility Staffing Survey Results – Part I
  4. How do you justify an automated meter reading system?
  5. Do you separate your base charge…?

Looking ahead to 2019

This year will include the 2019 Utility Fee Survey which will be the fourth survey of the various fees utilities charge. Previous Utility Fee Surveys were completed in 2012, 2015, and 2017.

2019 will also mark the 200th issue of the Utility Information Pipeline, so I’ll try to come up with something special for that issue!

Is this a good time to consider a business review?

When things in your office slow down a little is sometimes the best time to conduct a business review. If you’ve been considering a business review as an internal check-up, or would like to know more about what you could gain from a business review, please give me a call at 919-232-2320 or e-mail me at to discuss it.

Click here to subscribe to my free, bi-weekly email newsletter...

© 2019 Gary Sanders