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Question

Innovations in Gas Metering?

Daniel Ohlendorf's picture
Program Leader, *a major utility*

Experienced Energy Program Management Leader with a demonstrated history of leadership in the electric utilities industry as well as in product design and engineering companies.

  • Member since 2020
  • 16 items added with 4,167 views
  • Dec 7, 2020
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With the maturity of the intelligent meter market, multiple innovations have occurred in electric metering infrastructure which expand the capabilities beyond just meter to cash operations.  More and more utilities are able to leverage these meters as "sensors in the field" to improve safety, customer experience, and overall operations.

Have there been any equivalent innovations on the gas side?  Most utilities still leverage their gas meter infrastructure solely for billing purposes, and a few have outage information and/or show hourly usage data to their customers through technologies like what Oracle provides.  Does anyone have case studies or examples beyond that?

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Hi Daniel,

In my consulting experience it is primarily about the customer's (industrial, commercial or institutional) drive to use a metering system to their advantage.

Even when it comes to electric energy, where there is a lot already available (energy management system via the internet and using the utility's meter plus a transducer) not too many actually take advantage of what's on line like opportunities to better adjust contracted demand vis-à-vis recorded demand,  time of use opportunities, power factor improvement among others.

My perception is: more than the metering capabilities is the utility's strategy to engage customers with the idea of reaching and maintaining better metrics (gas prices in USD/ft³ and gas usage ft³/physical activity.

When I was able to show the client's upper managers about the energy related opportunities that could be identified using on-line systems there was a huge turnaround! This because the lower echelons don't like the "extra burden". But... when leaders step in the whole picture changes!

The major limiting factor in gas metering is the battery. Very low power - short range communications (think Green-FI and lower) are available - they don't have the range of the typical systems used in Electric AMI, but they can be used to communicate to the electric meter. Instead of using an index cover and gear teeth, other sensors can be used to gather data with little or no energy use (the gas flow provides the energy to create the data), very low power non-volatile memory and processing also exist coming from the cellular and IoT market. To date I am not aware of a commercially available gas meter that incorporates all of these technologies. 

Battery life is still going to be the sticking point. 

Daniel Ohlendorf's picture
Daniel Ohlendorf on Dec 17, 2020

Thank you Doug.  How about innovations that leverage the data coming from the meter?

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