This summer, Frankfort Village, N.Y., finished replacing residents' water and electric meters with "smart" models and implemented an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) network. The new equipment allows the utility department to remotely collect information about customers' water and power use, and receive immediate alerts of any outages or other problems that indicate a need for repairs. The technology upgrades are helping the village save money, and improve customer service and accuracy.

With a service area of approximately 20 square miles, the Village of Frankfort's Power and Water Department serves more than 1,700 residential and commercial customers. Before beginning the meter replacement project, the department was plagued by unidentified leakages, unauthorized users and meter tampering. And, all of its meter readers had received injuries on the job during the two weeks each month it took them to manually collect all of the readings.

Last year, the village turned to Cleveland, N.C.-based Mueller Systems, a subsidiary of Mueller Water Products, Inc., to implement the Mi.Net Mueller Infrastructure Network for Utilities, a two-way AMI system that automates the meter reading-to-billing process and links meters, distribution sites and control devices in one data network. The village also began upgrading 1,400 water and 1,700 electric meters in its service area, replacing them with Mueller Systems' Hersey water meters and Landis+Gyr's solid state electric meters.

The "smart" meters daily gather and pass water and electricity data wirelessly to the village's server, so employees no longer need to go collect meter information. If utility staff need to read a meter while on the phone with a customer, or take a move in/out reading outside of the normal data transmission, they can send a signal from the office to the meter to prompt a reading. On-going access to data makes it possible to notice anomalies that indicate excessive water or electricity use, so the utility can alert homeowners of potential water leaks. Real-time leak and outage alerts notify the village to dispatch field crews to fix problems before they result in service interruptions. The village also is alerted if a meter is disconnected or tampered with.

The meter replacement program was funded by a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant, and the village is applying for more grants to fund additional projects that use the system, including a web portal for residents to monitor their consumption, configure alerts, and set budget and conservation goals. The village also plans to upgrade residential heating and air conditioning thermostats to allow homeowners to adjust their temperature settings over the Internet and receive service notices through screens on the devices.

In June, in recognition of the increased efficiencies that resulted from the meter and AMI project, the village received the first place award in the Public Works Category from the New York State Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials' 24th Annual Local Government Achievement Award Program.

Project: Water/energy efficiency project
Jurisdiction: Frankfort Village, N.Y.
Agency: Power and Water Department
Vendor: Cleveland, N.C.-based Mueller Systems
Date completed: July 2011
Cost: $500,000