CORNELIUS – The Peninsula community will be the second north Mecklenburg community to test “the next generation” of electronic water meter transmitters, after Charlotte City Council gave approval to a pilot project to test up to 1,000 of the new units.
As part of its contract with Badger Meter, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities also received approval to accelerate the replacement of older 50W transmitters that drew great scrutiny from the north Mecklenburg citizens task force created in 2009, after a host of residents’ complaints about unexplained “spikes” in water bills.
Only a few weeks ago, Charlotte City Council approved a contract with a different company, Itron, to test its new generation of 100W transmitters in the River Run and Hidden Valley communities. As part of that contract, Itron also is replacing a large number of the old 50W transmitters.
Like Itron’s 100W transmitter, Badger “has recently developed a transmitter system with new features that include the ability to internally store hourly water use data,” according to utility spokeswoman Karen Whichard.
“The pilot program is important because it provides a first step towards allowing our customers to have more frequent access to their water use data,” utility Director Barry Gullet said in a news release. Both contracts and pilot studies are part of the utility’s ongoing effort to respond to recommendations of the north Mecklenburg task force to rebuild customer confidence.
Badger will test its latest transmitter in the Peninsula and the Faires Farm neighborhood in University City. Both neighborhoods were a part of an independent meter-equipment audit the utility conducted last summer. The cost of the pilot study will not exceed $225,000.
In the larger part of the contract – which will cost $3.2 million – the utility is paying Badger to accelerate replacement of the older 50W meter transmitters with 60,000 60W transmitters “at a discount” and allow the utility to upgrade to 100W transmitters if the pilot studies are successful.
“The 60W performs better in the field because its stronger radio signal transmits data at a better rate than the 50W,” Gullet said.