Nicor Gas' 2.2 million Meter Modernization milestone
Automated meter reading enhances customer experience with more timely and accurate data about energy usage
NAPERVILLE, Ill., Jan. 8, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 2.2 million natural gas meters have been upgraded as part of Nicor Gas' Meter Modernization program. The Meter Modernization program began two years prior as one of several investments the company is making to improve customer communication and experience, and the reliability of meter reading and billing, ensuring every customer's energy needs are met safely and reliably now and well into the future.
"We are constantly innovating our infrastructure and technology in ways that enhance the reliable delivery of clean, safe, affordable energy and empower customers to take more control over their energy use and natural gas bills," said John O. Hudson III, president and CEO of Nicor Gas. "An added benefit is the ability for our customers to reduce their carbon footprint through more efficient natural gas use, which helps make our environment cleaner."
Meter Modernization involves the installation of small, two-way communication devices on existing natural gas meters throughout Nicor Gas' service territory. These two-way communication devices feature state-of-the art technology that automates the meter reading process and securely transmits usage data to Nicor Gas via private radio frequencies in compliance with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.
The automation enhances Nicor Gas customers' experience by eliminating estimated meter reads and providing more timely and accurate data about their energy usage, enabling energy- and cost-savings decisions. The ability to read meters without the need for a field visit also will simplify the process of moving properties and reduce the expense and environmental impact of service vehicles on the road.
"I am so proud of our employees and contracting partners for the speed in which this massive undertaking was completed. It resulted in the safe upgrade of 2.2 million natural gas meters, and that's truly commendable," Hudson said. "This was no small undertaking, especially during COVID-19 with increased safety protocols and social distancing measures. Through their diligence and commitment to safety our teams have helped improve customer satisfaction and the customer experience."
Mass deployment of the automated metering infrastructure began in 2018 and would not have been possible in the short timeframe without the partnership of 3P Utility Services and GridOne Solutions. Through their work over the last two years, more than 200 jobs were created in the area aiding economic impact, especially during the ongoing pandemic when Nicor Gas employees and contractors continued to work while many faced workforce reductions. About 80,000 meters remain before the Meter Modernization program will be complete. These meters are primarily located within customer homes and businesses and will require indoor access to upgrade.
Nicor Gas' meter readers are transitioning to newer roles with training and education that prepares them for field work that incorporates the use of data with the automated meter technology and applications. These positions have the added benefit of preparing workers for a career in the clean energy economy.
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