With gas AMI holding so many benefits for gas utilities, it’s easy to talk about the possibilities of what it can do. But, implementing an AMI solution can seem daunting, especially for municipalities with limited staff.
If you’re feeling as if an AMI deployment would take your utility into unchartered territory, you’re not alone. That’s why we’ve asked the City of Hohenwald, Tennessee to allow us to share their story over the course of the next year as they deploy a gas AMI solution. We’ll be doing a series of blog posts following their progress – sharing their successes, challenges and lessons they learn along the way.
Midway between Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee, you will find the small town of Hohenwald. The town, whose name means “high forest” in German, is known for its beautiful views along the Natchez Trace Parkway and The Elephant Sanctuary, the nation’s largest natural-habitat refuge dedicated to endangered elephant species.
Described as a place where “most people know everybody,” there’s a strong sense of community and a great dedication among the city leaders who work to serve it. One of those leaders is Randy Hinson, IT and AMR Director at Hohenwald, who works alongside his team to provide the city’s residents with water and gas.
Why They Chose to Implement AMI
Hohenwald is currently using Sensus’ SmartPoints as a drive-by solution for capturing their customers’ gas usage. With most of their residents living within a five-mile radius, drive-by monitoring was manageable, but the data wasn’t frequent enough to allow them to proactively catch and correct billing issues. “If you’re doing drive-by, you’re trying to manage your business based on one day out of the month,” said Randy. He and his team recognized that AMI would allow them to correct any issues before their customers received their bill in addition to “giving us a better opportunity to branch out as a utility and offer other, better services.”
Hohenwald’s installed base of gas meters had aged to the point of no longer capturing accurate measurements, so they needed to update their entire meter base. Randy wisely saw this as “an opportunity to step up a notch” and make a big advancement in the town’s gas metering technology.
In addition to the aging gas meters, Hohenwald was also facing substantial challenges on the water side of the business. “The water side was instrumental in getting this together,” Randy explained. The cost savings they’ll see from reducing hidden water leaks and truck rolls for service calls will be enough to fund their AMI deployment.
Hohenwald’s AMI Solution
With the launch of the Sonix IQ residential gas meter, Randy knew that now was the perfect opportunity to implement an AMI solution for gas. Their plan includes Sensus’ Sonix ultrasonic commercial and industrial meters, as well as 1,700 Sonix IQ meters across their service area. After a few COVID-related delays in the spring, they started their deployment on June 1, 2020. By late-July, Hohenwald was close to finishing their installations.
Randy explained that the Sonix IQ has been very easy to install because it’s lighter and has a smaller profile than traditional diaphragm meters. Although they originally planned to do the installations in-house, Randy and his team found that they were too busy with the day-to-day operations to make the progress they needed, so they hired a subcontractor to install the majority of the meters.
Next up, they are looking forward to participating in training on their new Sensus Analytics platform and customizing alarm notifications from their new Sonix ultrasonic gas meters.