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Murray Journal

Smart technology coming to your Murray City utility bill

Jul 03, 2023 12:34PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Murray City’s AMI system will track Murray residents’ water consumption from afar. (Shaun Delliskave/City Journals)

Murray City is set to revolutionize its utility services by implementing an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system. This technological upgrade aims to streamline operations, improve billing accuracy and enhance the overall management of utility services. Murray City officials are optimistic about the potential benefits that AMI will bring to the community.

“Murray City is excited to embark on this transformative journey of implementing an Advanced Metering Infrastructure system,” Murray City Director of Finance and Administration Brenda Moore said. “AMI will be a game changer for our utility services, offering real-time monitoring, improved data collection and increased operational efficiency. We believe this investment will lead to long-term cost savings and enhance our ability to provide reliable services to our residents.”

Partially funded through Murray City budget reserves, the AMI system involves a significant financial commitment. The Power Department has allocated $4,400,000 for collection infrastructure and power meters, while the Water Department has budgeted $1,250,000 for the costs associated with water meters. Murray City employees will handle the installation process, with potential overtime expenses.

“The implementation of AMI will allow us to streamline our processes, reduce labor requirements and ultimately deliver more efficient utility services,” Moore said. “This system will enable us to optimize resource allocation, improve billing accuracy and reduce the time between meter reads and bill generation.”

According to Murray City officials, the anticipated cost savings from the transition to AMI are expected to be substantial. By eliminating the need for monthly meter reads Murray City predicts that only one meter reader will be required, allowing two employees to be reassigned to other duties. The ability to remotely control power connections and disconnections will facilitate move-ins, move-outs and final billing processes.

However, the city anticipates potential challenges and unexpected expenses that may arise during the implementation of AMI. “As with any new technology, there will be a learning curve, and our current processes will need to adapt to the system’s increased capabilities,” Moore said. 

Any unforeseen costs will be managed through current operating budgets, capital reallocation or budget amendments.

Data privacy and security remain critical concerns for Murray City throughout the implementation process. 

“We are committed to ensuring the strongest data security protocols are implemented,” Moore said. The transition to AMI will maintain the same level of data privacy and security as the current system, with stationary collection equipment replacing the previous street-based reading equipment.

Currently, Salt Lake County, Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District, Salt Lake City Public Utilities, West Jordan, South Jordan, Kaysville, Provo, Logan and Dixie Power have fully deployed AMI systems.

As Murray City prepares for the transition to AMI, public education and awareness initiatives are being planned to empower customers to make informed decisions regarding utility usage. The Gridstream Connect App will provide customers with real-time usage data, alerts and insights into their energy consumption.

“We are excited to launch educational programs that will help our customers take full advantage of the benefits offered by AMI,” Moore said. “Through increased transparency and engagement, we aim to empower our customers to make more informed decisions about their utility usage.”

The installation of the AMI system will be conducted by Murray City personnel. Murray City Power Department Director Greg Bellon emphasized the benefits of the in-house facility, stating, “This approach will not only save us hundreds of thousands of dollars but also ensure greater control and smoother coordination among the departments involved.”

“AMI will revolutionize our utility services by providing real-time data and actionable insights,” Murray City Public Works Director Russ Kakala said. “This system will enable us to make more informed decisions about infrastructure management, respond faster to service disruptions and enhance the overall efficiency of our operations.” 

Murray City’s Power Department will immediately access power consumption data, enabling more accurate billing, faster outage detection and improved response times. With the ability to monitor various residential loads, such as solar energy and electric vehicles, AMI will allow the city to optimize asset lifecycles, increase grid efficiency and facilitate consumer engagement.

“AMI will significantly enhance our ability to manage utility services,” Bellon said. “The real-time data gathered will enable us to better understand load patterns, detect unauthorized tampering and respond promptly to service disruptions. This system will enhance the overall efficiency, safety and customer experience of our power department.”

“Murray City is committed to embracing smart city technologies, and the integration of AMI is a significant step forward in our journey,” Moore said. “We envision a future where advanced technologies work harmoniously to improve service delivery, enhance sustainability and create a more connected and efficient community.”

“Yes, there’s been issues incorporating new technology with sometimes aged infrastructure. The largest issues come from areas that do not continuously communicate—creating data gaps or no data collected at all. Which would require us to manually collect water user reads,” Kakala said.

“These advanced systems can be susceptible to technical issues. However, most of the problems that arise are with contracted installers and with supply chain shortages. We will be installing the system ourselves to not only save money but also to help alleviate some of those issues. During the transition, we will be running two different systems simultaneously, which could cause some issues, but we will work together with utility billing and the water department to make the transition as smooth as possible,” Bellon said.

As Murray City moves closer to the full implementation of AMI, the municipality will focus on addressing potential challenges and ensuring a seamless transition for residents and customers.

“We are working closely with our utility departments, vendors and stakeholders to ensure a smooth and successful implementation of AMI,” Moore said. “We are confident that this investment will substantially benefit our community and propel us into a more sustainable and technologically advanced future.”

The AMI system installation is scheduled to begin in early 2024. λ