Following up on the last post about evergreen content, today’s post is another that remains relevant. As with many of the topics I write about, this one originated with assisting a customer.

I recently worked with a customer who is in the process of upgrading all of their meters in preparation for moving to an AMI system. They are using a contractor to perform the meter change-outs, supplying the contractor with a route of meters to be replaced in an export file. The contractor returns the file, with the final reading from the old meter and the new meter information, which is then imported and updated to complete the change-out process, saving the utility the laborious task of updating individual service orders.

Three most important words

If the three most important words in real estate are “location, location, location”, the three most important words in utility billing may well be “timing, timing, timing”.

This utility had loaded their current handhelds for the meter readers prior to the meter change-outs being updated. When the meter readers read the meters, they apparently ignored the fact that the meter in the handheld was no longer there and overrode the high usage warnings. When the utility updated those meter readings, every meter registered a rollover, resulting in outrageously high usage.

Doing things in the proper sequence

Once I corrected the meter readings, I made sure the office manager understood the proper sequence of events:

  1. Update the mass meter change-outs
  2. Load the handhelds with the new meters
  3. Read the new meters
  4. Update the meter readings

While it’s always a good practice to load the handhelds as close as possible to the reading date, it’s imperative to do so when meters are being changed in the field.