People are constantly moving in and out of homes or apartments. Along with these transitory moves comes the difficult task for utilities of turning off power and subsequently restoring service. There are also times when non-payment forces the utility to take action.
Utility workers face a real threat every time they show up at a customer site to disconnect service. There are numerous tragic stories of confrontations that have escalated into dangerous and sometimes even deadly situations.
However, this doesn’t need to be the case. By using remote disconnect switches, utilities not only save time and money by reducing the dedicated truck roll, the utility worker’s safety is also protected. For some utilities, it is as simple as pushing a button. Voila! There is electricity. This straightforward process only happens if the utility has chosen to deploy Remote Connect/Disconnect (RCD) meters with their Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system.
Why Aren’t More Utilities Deploying RCD Meters?
According to a 2021 IEI report on smart meter deployments, nearly 75% of all utilities are now using AMI. Of those, utilities can be divided into two schools of thought with their RCD deployments:
- Those that take a targeted approach, and
- Those that exclusively deploy RCD meters.
The principal reason to deploy RCD meters in a selective, targeted approach, boils down to one factor – money. RCD meters simply cost more. And from a utility executive’s perspective, there are plenty of customers who regularly pay their bills on time. Why should the utility incur the added cost of an RCD meter if there isn’t a clear-cut business case?
It’s complicated, but it doesn’t need to be.
Why You Should Consider Deploying More RCDs?
By organizing RCD benefits into three categories, you can get a comprehensive picture.
Operations & Safety
Simply put–fewer trucks on the road saves money. Eliminating the need to roll a truck for move-in, move-out, non-payment or reinstatement on payment cannot be understated. Rather than creating and tracking work orders, internal resources and field personnel are now able to focus on more high-value tasks. By creating a more linear and streamlined process, the positive effects cascade across the utility. As an added bonus, the health and safety of the utility service person will not be threatened by the disgruntled customer.
Customers expect instant gratification and some level of control. The traditional, antiquated approach to disconnecting and connecting power does not meet the time requirements for what has become normal. RCDs also enable customer-friendly pre-pay programs. There are many examples of how pre-pay options give customers billing flexibility and control over their energy consumption.
We have a responsibility to leave the world a little better than how we found it. By decreasing the number of truck rolls, your carbon footprint is also reduced. For instance, at one large utility in North America, they have eliminated 468,000 manual connect/disconnect operations annually. This equates to 11 million pounds of CO2 emissions saved per year.
The old disconnect process is inherently wasteful, especially if there is a viable alternative. The operational, safety, customer and societal benefits of RCD meters are clear. It’s time for all utilities to take advantage of smart metering technology that is readily available and make the switch.