It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic changed our way of thinking and how we do things. Many of us hadn’t heard of Zoom or Teams before the pandemic, but now we may know how to use filters and avoid the “double-mute.” The pandemic has been challenging in many ways, but has also revealed practical solutions that allow us to be more efficient. Some of our gas utility customers recently shared how their AMI system benefitted them during the pandemic.

ACCESSIBLE

Gas meters are often located inside of the home. Under COVID restrictions, utilities would not have been able to read those meters during the pandemic without an AMI system. We worked with one utility which deployed an AMI system just before the lock-down, not knowing how beneficial it would be right away. The AMI system helped them avoid a huge complication they weren’t expecting!

MEASURABLE

Another utility described a scenario where they deployed nearly half of their AMI network before the pandemic, but the project was not complete. In the areas where they had AMI, they could clearly measure how much natural gas was delivered but not billed at the end of the month. Financial reconciliation in these areas was simple. In the areas without AMI where they didn’t have access to the meters, they were left to estimate the quantity.

INSIGHTFUL

A third utility was able to accurately explain and resolve an issue for their local school district. School administrators were alarmed by the fact that heating bills had increased, even though the buildings were empty and classes were not being held. The utility was able to compare daily energy usage from the prior year to better understand and explain the increased bill. The thermostats in classrooms were scheduled to be set to a certain temperature during school hours when there was full student occupancy. However, body heat supplemented the temperature in the room when students were in class. Without administrators, teachers and students, heating systems were carrying the full load. The school district was able to reset thermostats and return to normal or below costs.

SAFE AND SUSTAINABLE

The last utility that we spoke to was able to launch a project to limit local travel and human interactions. While intervals vary by utilities, chart pressure recorders are often manually replaced and filed every 14 days. This utility implemented the Smart Pressure Gateway to fully automate the collection and retrieval of data. The utility noted these benefits: less travel, less human interaction, less chance for accidents, and fewer carbon emissions.

From our daily routines to our life goals and priorities, the COVID-19 pandemic changed life as we know it. While we may never go back to what we’ve always known as normal, it doesn’t hurt to look at the silver linings and what we can glean from the past year. While I won’t be disappointed having fewer video meetings, I’m excited about many of the improvements and efficiencies we’ve discovered during the pandemic that are here to stay.