Professional engineer John Thompson, who is Director of Environmental Services for Barrie explains, “Since the Ontario government mandated electric utilities to adopt smart meters, ideas about better approaches to water metering were also circulating. An intensive effort by the City of Barrie concluded that the best solution to help the City reduce costs and improve the accuracy of billing for water/wastewater services was a fixed-base wireless meter reading system communicating through a dedicated radio frequency. This program is about working smarter to conserve water, operate efficiently, and empower our customers to be accountable for their own water usage.”
Barrie projected it would see a full return on investment in the FlexNet system within two to three years based on the benefits of reducing third-party meter reading costs compared to the projected costs of assigning city staff to manage walk-by/drive-by systems. City officials anticipate a projected savings of approximately $20 million in 20 years.
Doug McCall, Sensus Director of Marketing, says his company “is a strong partner for Barrie, not only because of our proven success with hundreds of smart grid deployments across the electric, gas and water industries, but because our communications technology provides a guaranteed, clear-channel frequency. This dedicated frequency was important to the City as it gave the utility greater control and security of the network and enabled them to ensure continuity of communications without interference.”
The project has enabled customers to become more conservation minded. A recent study found that Barrie citizens use 25 percent less water daily than the average Canadian. The city was also recently honored with the Metering International Excellence award for the Smart Utility of the Year.