Nicor Gas is Illinois’ largest natural gas distribution company, serving more than two million customers across the state’s northern region. For more than 60 years, they have relied on field visits to capture usage data and monitor meter health. But, in order to meet recent goals of providing more data to their customers while reducing the cost and environmental impact of their field fleet, Nicor needed to update their systems to Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI).

Their goal was to find a solution that would automate meter reading and create a foundation for future modernization without compromising the reliability of their data.  At the same time, their large installed base meant they needed to find a way to update existing equipment rather than replacing all 2.2 million gas meters. 

The solution: move to remote meter reading using Sensus SmartPoints® attached to existing diaphragm meters communicating via Sensus’ two-way FlexNet® communication network.

For many utilities doing manual meter reads, an installed base consisting of a meters from different brands can be a significant barrier to upgrading their system.  To help overcome that obstacle, Sensus SmartPoints were engineered to work with a variety of Sensus, Honeywell, Itron and National meters.  You can find a complete listing of compatible meters here.  For added flexibility, SmartPoints can be used for walk-by, drive-by or fixed based deployment.  Given Nicor’s goal of reducing truck rolls, they opted for fixed base using the Sensus FlexNet communications network.

With a FlexNet network, each utility has a private, point-to-multipoint communication network capable of two-way transmissions at over two times the power of competitive systems. In addition to automating their data collection, gas customers can use FlexNet to monitor and control pressure from anywhere as well as turn off gas remotely for increased safety.

To see how Nicor managed such an aggressive meter modernization project and the preliminary benefits they’ve seen, read the case study.