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Carolina Beach Council Planning For Remote Water Meters

The Carolina Beach Town Council adopted resolutions at their January 15, meeting to approve up to $1.3 million dollars for implementing a system to connect all water meters via a fixed network to Town Hall to permit monitoring for more accurate billing, leaks, tampering and conservation.

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CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council approved resolutions to finance a plan up to $1.3 million dollars to create a fixed network of remotely monitored water meters for commercial and residential customers at their January 15, meeting.
The plan would essentially create a town-wide network allowing the billing department to monitor and log water use.
A draft "request for proposals" was presented to the Council last week at their January 8, meeting.
According to that document the Town is seeking a "Fixed Network Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) System" that will work with most major water meters, with an expected reading accuracy of 98% or more for all meters in the system.
The draft request states, "The Town of Carolina Beach will not consider Drive-by or migratable (Drive-by migrating to Fixed Network) systems, or the installation of technology that has not been field tested. Vendor experience should include solutions that have been available for over 10 years and with over 100 deployments."
When the project is completed, the Town of Carolina Beach would own and operate a functional and upgradeable Fixed Network AMI System capable of utilizing several types of meters and meter manufacturers. The system would have to be compatible with multiple types of meters.
The Town wants a Fixed Network consisting of a series of data collector units (DCU) located strategically throughout the Town.
According to the draft request for proposals, "The locations shall be determined by the Fixed Network AMI System vendor as part of the bid. The DCU units will be powered using either AC/battery or solar/battery to retrieve meter readings and relay them to a centralized location at Town of Carolina Beach Utility Department Offices. The DCU units, as well as the corresponding meter transmission units (MTU), must operate on a licensed [radio] frequency that is the exclusive property of the Town of Carolina Beach."
Another requirement states, "All Fixed Network AMI retrieved meter readings will be in a format compatible with the vendor supplied software for the Fixed Network system. The software will prepare and format the meter reading data for the printing of selected management reports and the transfer of the meter reading data to the billing software for customer invoicing."
The draft request for proposals also calls for leak detection, flagging large usage, numerous accounting features and tamper alarms.
During the Council's January 15, meeting Public Utilities Director Gene Gurganious explained, "At the last meeting we determined we had to do a resolution for reimbursement for any funds spent for the fixed network system prior to getting financing for it."
The Council approved that resolution up to an amount of $1.3 million dollars.
The Council also adopted a resolution authorizing financing of the proposed system.
Gurganious said the next step is to finalize a "request for proposals" to solicit bids from companies to install the system.
Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said it could potentially be 4,000 meters although some meters are newer than others.
Gurganious said new meters recently installed are compatible with the new fixed network systems currently available. Older meters will have to be replaced.
Shuttleworth expressed concern about including a number in the resolutions and potential contractors knowing what the Town was willing to spend.
Finance Director Dawn Johnson said, "They can look at the number, but we're going to take whoever is the lowest bidder anyway. It will behoove them to have a better contract. That's just giving the ballpark number of what it potentially could be. We can't bring you resolutions that would be under that because then we couldn't file the application."
Once the Request for Proposals is finalized, the Town will follow a bid process and award a bid to a contractor. Then the Town will have to seek approval from the State Treasurer's Local Government Commission to finance the project.
The bids should be returned to the Town by the end of February.
Mayor Bob Lewis said the Council should look at the number of write-offs from people moving and leaving unpaid bills that exceed the deposit placed when opening an account.
A number of years ago the Town Council voted to extend the time permitted to pay overdue bills from 30 to 45 days before cutting off service.
Lewis said the Council should review that system.
The Council voted unanimously to approve both resolutions.