Frequently Asked Questions
The Public Utilities Department (PUD) began installing smart meters in March 2014, as part of an effort to update our systems and provide new benefits to our customers.
Smart meters are water meters capable of two-way communications. Having two-way communications enables PUD to offer customers a number of key benefits:
Provides customers with online daily detailed water usage information captured from the previous day;
Customers can set water usage goals and automatic notifications;
Customers can set alerts for unusual consumption patterns; and
Smart meters make it easier for customers to conserve water and manage their water bill.
Getting Smarter and Working Together
Smart meters helps conserve and ensure a better water future. Working with our customers is the best way to reduce water use, improve the reliability and sustainability of our water system and minimize cost. Smart meters provide an outstanding foundation for strong collaboration with our customers. Smart meter customers now have the tools and information to help save water and save money.
What are smart meters?
Smart meters are water meters that offer two-way communications between the meter at your home or business and PUD. They are a key component of our new Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system.
When will I get my smart meter?
Installation of approximately 11,000 smart meter locations citywide is complete. The City is already moving forward with steps to expand the AMI system to the remaining City water meters.
How does PUD know these meters are accurate?
The meters are tested by the manufacturers and comply with the American Water Works Association standards. If for any reason you are concerned about the accuracy of your meter or an inaccurate billing, call the Customer Care Center at 619-515-3500.
Is my privacy secure?
Yes, measures are in place to ensure your information is secure and kept safe at all times through data encryption.
Who do I call if I have questions or concerns about my smart meter?
Call the Customer Care Center at 619-515-3500.
How does the AMI system work?
It uses a radio network to transmit customer usage data allowing electronic reading and eliminating the need for visual inspection.
Who is involved in the AMI Initial Implementation Project?
Approximately 11,000 service locations out of 280,000, or about 4 percent of city meters now have AMI technology installed under the Initial Implementation Project. These include mostly larger meters used in commercial, industrial and multi-family locations. These are often the more challenging and costly to read visually.
Approximately 1,000 meters in located in one pressure zone were fitted with the AMI technology to evaluate the benefits of bimonthly billing.
Why is PUD installing smart meters? What are the benefits?
PUD is in the process of upgrading its technology to better serve customers. Smart meters offer a number of benefits for both the City and its customers, including more detailed water usage information and the ability to address issues more quickly and effectively. The new smart meters help PUD operate more efficiently and pass on benefits to customers, including the following:
Improved customer service and support
Fewer estimated bills
Detailed hourly usage data captured from the previous day available to customers online
Data to help resolve billing and usage questions
Faster service for customers who open and close accounts
Reduced operating costs
Off-cycle meter reading no longer required, fewer visits to the meter
Better data allowing staff to plan, construct and optimize the water distribution system
Ability to measure and target new water conservation programs
What do I need to do to prepare?
There is not much you need to do to prepare for your smart meter. You will receive a notice from PUD just before installation at your location.
On the day of installation, the technician will install the necessary equipment on your water meter. If access to the meter is restricted, the technician will make contact with you to gain that access or schedule a future date/time with you for that access.
What will change with my new meter?
Once installed, it may be several weeks before your smart meter is fully activated but your usage will still be measured and available from the meter visually. This delay will allow time to ensure the system is fully functional and the meter is communicating reliably with the City's data network.
Once fully activated, PUD will no longer send someone out to your home to read your meter. We will read your meter remotely through the AMI network.
Will my water bill look different?
No. The look of your water bill will remain the same for now. If you have any questions or concerns about your water bill, call the Customer Care Center at 619-515-3500.
How can I access the data provided by the new meters?
Customers will have access online to their own detailed usage information.
How will the project benefit the Public Utilities Department and its customers?
AMI technology has been proven in many utilities across the country and locally in cities such as Carlsbad and Encinitas. AMI minimizes meter reading costs, and is faster and more efficient than visual reading. It advances city infrastructure and prepares for future data requirements. Optimizing our operations helps us keep costs lower for our customers.
How long will this new device work?
The life expectancy of the devices installed in the field is 20 years. Periodic inspection and maintenance will be performed to ensure all devices are performing as expected.
Who will install the AMI device?
Itron, Incorporated installed the AMI equipment for the initial implementation under the City's guidance. The company's website is: www.Itron.com. Installation for the remaining devices citywide will be competitively bid.
If I am getting AMI technology, will I be notified before the installation takes place?
Yes. Notification by mail will be sent to customers who will be getting the new technology.
How is the installation done?
Many water meters have been replaced and are AMI ready. These meters will simply be fitted with the AMI transmitter.
Older meters which may not be fully functioning will be replaced with new meters and the AMI transmitter. Others will simply be fitted with the AMI transmitter.
There will be no noticeable difference in the appearance of your meter.
Installers will clean the area and make sure the new device is working properly.
How long will the installation process take?
In most cases less than an hour.
Will my water service be disrupted during this process?
In most cases, water service will not be disrupted.
Installation of the transmitter does not require a temporary water shut-off.
A 30 minute service shut-off will be necessary only if the water meter needs to be replaced.
If replacement of the water meter is required, the technician will alert occupants by knocking at the door or leaving notification.
Why do I need a new meter?
Not all meters will be replaced. Only older meters that are not compatible with the new system will be replaced.
Can I tell if I need a new meter?
No, only a qualified technician can evaluate if a new meter is required.
Will the entire City eventually get AMI Smart Meter Technology?
Yes, the City is already moving forward with steps to expand the AMI system to the remaining City water meters.
Will the AMI device's radio signals affect the operation of other electronic devices in my home?
No, the device's radio signal is similar but significantly weaker than that of a cordless phone.
Is the AMI technology safe?
Yes, the AMI technology is as safe as cell phones, laptops, blue tooth devices and similar equipment.
Here is an in-depth article about the safety of this technology: Radio Frequency Frequently Asked Questions
If I notice a problem after installation, whom should I contact?
If you notice a problem after installation, please e-mail [email protected] or call the Customer Care Center at 619-515-3500.
Will I be charged for this new service?
No, there is no additional cost for the new meter reading device and no additional costs for a new water meter if one is deemed necessary by the technician. The funding for this technology is incorporated in the water bill you already receive.
Will the new device affect my bill?
Installation of the AMI transmitter will not affect your bill. In some instances, if your water meter needs to be replaced, a new meter is more accurate than old meters, so your bill may change to reflect the accurate measurement of your water use.
Will I be able to read my water meter after the AMI device is installed?
Yes, visual meter reading will still be available as a back-up.