The City of Barrie, Ontario is saving $600,000 to $1 million annually since launching its smart grid for water project. The project involved installing the Sensus FlexNet fixed-base wireless communications system and equipping all of its 42,000 residential water meters and 2,500 commercial and industrial water meters with radio transmitters, says Sensus.
“Since the Ontario government mandated electric utilities to adopt smart meters, ideas about better approaches to water metering were also circulating,” said John Thompson, P.Eng., Director of Environmental Services for the City of Barrie. “An intensive effort by the City of Barrie concluded that the best solution to help the City reduce costs and improve the accuracy of billing for water/wastewater services was a fixed-base wireless meter reading system communicating through a dedicated radio frequency.”
Barrie built a business case anticipating a full return on investment in the Sensus (Raleigh, N.C., USA) FlexNet system of two to three years based solely on the benefits of reducing third-party meter reading costs compared to the projected costs of assigning city staff to manage walk-by/drive-by systems. The City anticipates a projected savings of approximately $20 million in 20 years.
A recent utility study found that Barrie citizens use about 75% of average daily water usage of the average Canadian. The City created an online portal where citizens can access their own usage data. That portal was accessed by more than half of all Barrie’s citizens within its first six weeks, and calls to the customer service center regarding billing questions are decreasing as a result of shared information and speedy leak detection capabilities, says Sensus.
“This program is about working smarter to conserve water, operate efficiently, and empower our customers to be accountable for their own water usage,” said Thompson.