August Newsreel: Stimulus boosts smart metering, Indiana tunnel prevents sewage overflow and more

August 2010 Vol. 65 No. 8

The city will pay for the entire program through the energy and operational savings, and improved revenue generation the smart meter system and infrastructure upgrades produce. Honeywell guarantees approximately $1.7 million in savings per year as part of the performance contract so the work will not increase city-operating budgets or require additional taxpayer dollars. Duncan will use more than $2 million in ARRA stimulus grants through the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality and an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to help fund the program at the outset.

To create the smart metering network, Honeywell will replace existing utility meters across the city with more than 9,000 electric meters and 12,000 water meters from Elster Integrated Solutions. The new meters will be connected via a Tropos wireless mesh network that builds on the city's existing broadband service. Every meter will come equipped with a digital register — instead of the traditional rotating dials — as well as wireless technology that allows the meters to send readings to nearly 700 "collector" meters located throughout the city, which will then transmit the data to the utility systems.

The electric meters also feature two-way communication capabilities that will provide the city greater visibility into, and control of, the electrical grid. Instead of simply collecting usage data, for example, utility employees can pinpoint specific houses affected by a power outage or remotely shut off power if a resident is moving. The new meters will also further reduce costs by detecting water leaks or other problems almost immediately.

Tunnel will keep overflow sewage out
Federal clean water laws mandate that the city of Lafayette, IN, reduce the volume of combined rainwater and sewage that reaches the Wabash River. When it’s not raining, sewage flows to the city’s wastewater treatment plant on the south side of town. However, during a significant rainfall, the wastewater treatment system cannot handle the extra volume. As a result, combined rainwater and sewage flow directly into the Wabash.

As part of a 20-year plan to eliminate sewer overflows caused by the city’s combined sewer system, a $19 million underground sewer tunnel – it took two years to complete – went online in April.

The tunnel is meant to eliminate 30 percent of the city's annual volume of sewage overflows into the Wabash River.