Automated Water Meters Will Reduce Bills
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Department of Environmental Protection Acting Commissioner Steven W. Lawitts and Department of Information Technology and Telecommunication Commissioner Paul J. Cosgrave announced today that citywide installation of automated water meter reading technology has begun.
The new wireless equipment will end the use of estimated water bills, giving homeowners and small businesses more accurate and timely records of usage - increasing their ability to identify how they can conserve water and reduce water bills. Modest reductions in water consumption could save New Yorkers more than $90 million annually. The savings could support the retention or creation of more than 550 jobs in New York City through increased economic activity from homeowner savings and increased available cash flow for businesses. The program will also provide savings for the City by increasing collection rates and eliminating the expense of paying for meters to be individually read. New York City will be the largest city in the world to use wireless water metering.
"This is another prime example of bringing new technology to City government to improve services - and in this case we will potentially save New Yorkers millions of dollars a year," said Mayor Bloomberg. "The new system will read water meters four times a day instead of four times a year, giving homeowners and small businesses a clearer picture of their water use so they can look for ways to conserve. A modest reduction in water use of just five to ten percent could reduce water bills by $90 million a year across the City."
"This is a more accurate way to read meters and show customers their exact water consumption so they can conserve and more efficiently manage their bill, especially in these uncertain economic times," said DEP Acting Commissioner Lawitts. "We have worked hard to improve customer service, and this technology will ensure that bills are more accurate and will eliminate, with rare exceptions, the need to estimate some bills that are inaccurate and subject to later adjustment and surprises for customers."
"The most effective technology deployments help organizations to transform business processes and improve service delivery to their customers," said DoITT Commissioner Paul J. Cosgrave. "This program does just that for New Yorkers. Transmitting data via the New York City Wireless Network, the City's high-speed wireless backbone, this program is the first in a series of initiatives leveraging this state-of-the-art network on a citywide scale, creating significant cost savings for taxpayers and agencies alike."
The automated meter reading system consists of small, low-power radio transmitters connected to individual water meters that send readings every six hours to a network of rooftop receivers throughout the City. The close monitoring will allow the Department of Environmental Protection to send bills detailing exact usage, eventually on a monthly basis and available on the internet, as opposed to the current estimated bills issued every three months, so ratepayers will pay for exactly what they use each billing cycle. The exact billing will provide ratepayers with the ability to more closely scrutinize their water use and look for ways to conserve. The improved bills will also allow building owners to identify leaks that need repair and often prove costly.
A five percent reduction at residential properties would produce an estimated annual savings of more than $58 million and a 10 percent reduction at commercial properties would produce an estimated annual savings of nearly $33 million.
The new metering system will reduce costs for City government by eliminating the need for a meter reading contract costing the City more than $3 million a year. It will also increase water bill collection rates, as the more accurate bills will lead to fewer disputes and more bills being paid sooner. The City's current collection rate of approximately 88 percent is expected to rise to approximately 98 percent, based on experiences seen in other cities using similar systems and enforcement methods.
The City's PlaNYC long-term sustainability goals will be bolstered through the use of wireless readers by promoting water conservation and providing City government with better data for use in conservation and system planning initiatives.
The meter reading receivers will be part of the New York City Wireless Network, administered by Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. The meter system, developed by Aclara Technology, is a more advanced model of similar systems used in Boston and Washington, D.C. Aclara is performing the installation for New York City. The total cost of the changeover to automated meter reading in New York City is about $250 million.
The free installation for property owners has begun in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens and will begin in Staten Island this summer with installation completed on all 826,000 meters in New York City in 2011.
Property owners will receive a postcard two to four weeks prior to the arrival of installation contractors in their neighborhood. If a property owner is not home when an installation contractor arrives, a door hanger will be left with a number to call.