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WAPA Deploys Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)

(Thursday, October 23, 2014)

The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority has deployed the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system in the St. Thomas/St. John district.  The system’s communication equipment has been installed, and the AMI towers have been erected and commissioned to begin broadcasting data collected from customer smart meters.

In May, the Authority implemented a pilot project on St. Thomas, for the Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) program, which is a component of the AMI system.  Fifty customers were selected and notified of the pilot.  Their meters were replaced with the new smart meters and the consumption data was communicated electronically.  The project has proven successful, and has signaled the start of AMI deployment.

Deployment begins with replacing all current meters with a new Tantalus smart meter.  Contractors from Apex CoVantage, working along with members of WAPA’s Meter Services Department, will install the new meters, which will continue to display the kilowatt-hour (kwh) consumption from the old meter, at the time of replacement.  The new smart meter has the ability to record the consumption data and communicate it directly to WAPA’s communication center. The AMI system will implement meter reading from the office allowing customer service representatives to have real-time customer account information. This will enhance WAPA’s ability to obtain billing information based on the recorded information from the smart meter. Customers will also have the ability to control their consumption methods and costs by monitoring the real-time energy usage in their homes and businesses. 

An added benefit of the smart meter is the ability to know, within seconds, if an individual customer is experiencing service interruption, without that customer placing a call to the line department.  The system will serve to reduce meter tampering, quickly identify faults, and lay the communications ground work for a smart grid. 

Additional benefits of the AMI system include:

  • Quick access to consumption data

  • Reduction of operational costs

  • Improved customer service

  • More accurate billing

  • Faster turnaround time for customers who are relocating

Apex CoVantage contractors, as well as WAPA employees, will display proper identification when accessing customer premises to replace meters, and will travel in appropriately marked vehicles.  In the event a meter is inaccessible, and the resident is not at home, a note will be left indicating the serviceman was there and will return the following day to attempt installation.  The problem of the inaccessible meter must be rectified, or the resident must be at home to allow access, when the serviceman returns.  Customers are asked to cooperate fully with the individuals who come to their homes to work on this project.

The St. Thomas AMI deployment will be completed in January 2015.  In February, the Authority will begin deployment on St. John and St. Croix.