Utility Metering Solutions (UMS), under contract with the Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities, will begin installing Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) for the County of Los Alamos starting the week of March 15. AMI is a method of using radio communication technology to read meters remotely without having to physically access the meters on customers’ properties.
UMS crews, practicing COVID safety protocols, will begin by attaching smart points or communication modules onto the existing water meters in Pajarito Acres. From there, work will progress to La Senda and continue north up to Mirador before crews move to neighborhoods east of Rover. A second crew connecting communication modules to natural gas meters, could start one to two weeks after the water crews and shortly thereafter, a third crew will replace the electric meters with electric smart meters.
The full scope of work includes attaching smart points or communication modules to 14,000 existing gas and water meters and replacing approximately 8,000 existing electric meters with electric smart meters in White Rock and the Los Alamos townsite. The project could take up to six months to be fully installed and deployed throughout Los Alamos County.
DPU officials indicate that an advance notification letter will be mailed to customers to alert them that crews will be arriving in coming weeks to upgrade equipment. Customers do not need to be home during the upgrade, but officials request that clear access to the electric, gas and water meters be provided. During the electric upgrade, customers will experience a power interruption of approximately five minutes for a standard electric meter replacement.
Later this summer, once the AMI is fully deployed and integrated into the billing system, near real-time information on consumption of electricity, gas, and water will be made available to participating customers who request access through an on online portal. According to DPU officials, benefits to the customers and the department are many. Customers will be able to proactively monitor their usage online, allowing them to better manage consumption and take control of utility bills. DPU will no longer need to send a meter technician to customers’ properties every 30 days to read DPU’s meters. Bills will be issued more consistently and the potential for human error (incorrectly recording meter reads) will be reduced.
As the DPU is county-owned, it falls under New Mexico’s sunshine laws, including the Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA). Customers’ consumption data is considered a public record and subject to this state law that provides the public and media access to such information. Rather than sending data in monthly increments required under IPRA, DPU may be required to send data in 15- and 60-minute increments to the IPRA requestor.
Customers may elect to opt out of the AMI program without any additional fee per DPU’s General Rule-GR16, available on the DPU website (http://ladpu.com/Rule-GR16). To opt out, customers can complete an online form at http://ladpu.com/DPU-OptOut or contact the Customer Care Center at 505 662 8333. If a customer chooses to opt out, DPU crews will deactivate the wireless transmitting technology on the new electric smart meter and communication modules. This will remove the meters visibility from the AMI communication network. AMI benefits mentioned previously will not be available to these customers. DPU meter technicians will collect data monthly by physically accessing each opt out customer’s meters on his/her property.
Frequently Asked Questions and additional information is available on the DPU website at http://ladpu.com/AMI