Project profits withs disconnect systems
As deregulation and competition become part of everyday life for electricity utilities, managing customers is an increasingly critical task. The simple amortisation of delinquent accounts into the rates paid by the remaining customer base will weigh heavily on a utility’s ability to be competitive. The lost revenue associated with these bad accounts represents revenue that comes directly off the bottom line.
Tamper detection requires dedication
Revenue protection and loss prevention are hot topics nowadays in the utility industry. Tamper-indicating seals are often used to help detect theft and diversion, as well as meter tampering. Unlike locks, seals are not meant to physically impede unauthorised access or entry – they are meant to record that it took place.
AMR - the cure for energy theft?
I want to share the hope and dream I have for a cure-all solution to the problem of revenue protection, only a part of which includes AMR. Nevertheless this article will attempt to have you contemplate the usefulness of AMR, not instruct the world on how AMR can be defeated.
POINT OF VIEW
To appreciate the following discussion, you should have a feel for my point of view. I have 31 years of fieldwork experience dealing with electricity and steam meters. I became familiar with customer behaviour and utility services while engaging in turn-on, disconnects, trouble shooting, residential and commercial wiring problems and repairing customer appliances. The later years were spent in the revenue protection area, when I investigated 700-1000 cases per year of energy fraud. It is sad but true that when you deal mainly with customers who have trouble with their utility account, you become a bit sceptical of their intentions.
Can an investment in AMR be justified?
Most utilities that have AMR have made the decision for reasons other than return on investment. If you ask why, some will tell you – off the record – that they simply wanted to avoid the headaches associated with managing the manual meter reading process. Managing this workforce can be extremely challenging, due to expansive geography and turnover.
Smart-cards - a key tool for utilities
Until a few years ago – before deregulation hit the energy sector – end-consumers were limited to just one or two suppliers for all their energy needs. These suppliers in turn purchased virtually all their metering equipment from manufacturers who simply needed a factory in which to produce the equipment. In fact, their entire operating strategy was based almost exclusively on the production time-scales necessary to meet market demand. This is all changing fast. Consumers are demanding more and better services from their energy suppliers, competitive pressures are forcing utilities to rethink their business, and utility suppliers are being asked to come up with more innovative and ‘smarter’ products.
Liberalisation of the gas market in the UK
Liberalisation of the domestic market is still comparatively recent, and competition lags behind the industrial and commercial sectors. However, the rate of ‘take-up’ (i.e. of customers choosing to take gas from a new supplier) has increased, and the supporting IT systems have worked well.
This take-up rate has also been significantly faster than in telecoms, where the domestic market has been open to competition for several years.
Siemens Metering consolidates market position
Siemens Metering Limited was created by the merger of the Siemens and Landis & Gyr meters and systems businesses in April 1998. The new company’s objective is to consolidate its activities so as to benefit from the strengths of both companies; to expand business in selected growth regions; and to achieve the Number One or Number Two position in the global marketplace.
Single chip digital PLC modem
Several technologies are available to establish communication between the consumer’s electricity meter and the utility – the telephone network, radio waves and PLC. In this context PLC presents competitive advantages, as the network medium already exists.
Since the network is fully owned by the utility company, new opportunities can be exploited. For example, the power line can be used as a telecommunication network. The main component of such a communication system is the PLC modem, which allows communication between users and data concentrators to be established. This last connection point is located at the interfaces between low-voltage and medium-voltage.
Introducing LOC technology for input measuring circuits
Transformers have influenced the design of measuring equipment for over 100 years. During this time the restrictions imposed on us by transformers have become an accepted limitation on the performance of input measuring circuits. Another technique now exists, enabling transformer-less circuits to be used which deliver high performance in practice and allow a more flexible approach.
Bulk power transfer metering
Those involved in the business of buying and selling electricity know that the performance and quality of meters and metering systems is the barometer of their bottom line, and also of the level of customer confidence they can command.
The demand pull created by the ever-increasing deregulation and restructuring of electricity supply, coupled with the supply push created by modern day electronic and computation technologies, have resulted in an increasing emphasis on high precision metering. As a result, many commercially available tariff metering systems perform as well as – and often better than – reference standards used for testing only a decade ago.