One of the big challenges for many Utility companies is the decision to implement a Smart Metering for Residential Customers.
Since the decision for Utility companies to implement Smart Metering for high-value customer (industrial and commercial) is immediate because the break-even time is very short (high-value customers are just 5% average of the overall customers, they consume 50% average produced energy, they have a high bill), the decision to move to Smart Metering also for residential customers is very hard to take (and many time impossible) because the break-even time is very far (residential customers are 95% average of the overall customers, they consume 50% average produced energy, they have a low bill).
Because of that, most of the Utility company still perform the residential meter’s readings through the manual (or the semi-manual approach) but they are unhappy on the results in terms of reading accuracy and operational costs.
The solution to this dilemma is coming from the newly available and reliable IoT (Internet of Things) technologies and in particular, using the LPWAN (Low Power WAN) networks. The residential meters (power, water, gas) already on the field can be equipped with an LPWAN transmitter in order to implement a reliable, easy, quick and cheap Advanced Metering Infrastructure without replacing one single existing meter.
The Business Case Example
Let’s consider a Utility company that has 500.000 not-smart residential meters in the field distributed in an area of 300km2.
To move to Smart Metering with a classical approach based on GPRS technology, all the meters shall be replaced and a contract with a local Telecom Operator shall be subscribed. The only cost to replace the 500.000 meters can easily reach 100ML USD. On top of this shall be added all the operational costs as telecommunications fee, fieldwork, etc.
To move to Smart Metering with using an approach based on LPWAN technology the overall cost can be maximum 5ML USD since no-one meter shall be replaced and contract with a local Telecom Operator can be avoided.
LPWAN for Smart Metering
LPWAN is a radio-frequency network, based on different international standard protocols (LoRa, NB_IoT, Sigfox, etc.), that are growing very fast all around the world and can be provided by Telecom Operators or can be implemented by Utility companies as a private network without pay any fee to anyone.
LPWAN allow interconnecting physical devices on the field (capable to transmit and receive information through above-mentioned radio-frequencies), in our case meters, with an antenna located very far from them (15km in free-air space and 5km in a high-density urban area).
The antenna act as a gateway between the meters and the server (typically a Meter Data Management System) and is interconnected with the server through GPRS/4G (one SIM card) or a physical cable connection (Ethernet or Fiber). As an example, just 4 antennas (10.000,00 USD cost) placed on top of Utility company premise (e.g. substation, water tank, etc.) allow communicating in a bi-directional way with all the meters located in an area of 300km2.
Oracle Utilities Experts Offering
We offer to Utility companies a ready end-to-end solution Meter To Cash solution based on LPWAN and Oracle Utilities technologies.
The Utility company just have to retrofit the existing meters and install the antennas we provide. We’ll do all the rest: meters reading, meters configuration/re-configuration, readings validation, readings estimations, consumption calculation, billing and invoice production.
For the water sector, the solution is also able to control directly from the Meter Data Management System a remote valve in order to disconnect or reduce the water flow (pre-paid contracts, demand response, technical losses).
The solution can be provided on-premises or as cloud and can be integrated with all the Utility company legacy systems (asset management, workforce management, etc.).
Feel free to contact us for more information or for a live demo of the solution.