The City of Asheville Water Department realizes that some customers have experienced unexpectedly high bills as a result of an underperforming Automated Meter Reading, or AMR, transmitter. A high utility bill associated with a failed transmitter is usually preceded by an unusually low utility bill. The Water Department makes every effort to notify customers by mail prior to receiving a high bill related to transmitter failure as the problem is identified.
The mechanical part of the current water meters are measuring usage correctly, however if the transmitter has failed the water meter has to be manually read. After two consecutive zero reads occur, a work order is created to manually read the water meter. The correct read from the meter is then used to generate a bill that includes all unbilled consumption. The City of Asheville is evaluating options to further mitigate zero reads by manually reading water meters registering zero consumption, as well as other options.
That’s why the City of Asheville is in the process of replacing the AMR system with an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system. Replacement of the system is actually more cost effective than replacing the batteries on the AMR system currently reaching end of life. The system will also allow customers to monitor their water consumption through a real time dashboard. This will allow both customers and the Water Department to identify potential leaks or other issues that could result in an unexpectedly high bill.
The Water Department and outside contractors are currently working to procure equipment, finalize easements, and map out installation of data collectors to best address the needs of our more than 63,000 residential and business customers in Buncombe and Henderson counties.
The City of Asheville is bound by N.C. statute to charge for services provided. The City of Asheville does offer payment plans to assist customers with high utility bills.
Customers can contact Customer Services at (828) 251-1122 to establish a payment plan.
On July 26, the Asheville City council voted unanimously to approve the Advanced Metering Infrastructure Project, or AMI.
Staff recommended Council approval of the system after an extensive research period designed to identify the best product to meet our community’s needs.
The new AMI system will replace the Water Department’s current automated meter reading system now reaching the end of its useful life cycle. The newly approved AMI system will utilize a City owned fixed network of antennas and transmitters to relay data directly to the database.
This new method removes the need for staff to collect data by driving with a receiver in proximity to existing water meters.
Roll out of the system will impact all of the City of Asheville’s approximately 63,000 water department customers.
July 2022 – City Council approves funding of AMI project
Fall 2022 – City and contractor meetings
Spring 2023 – Network infrastructure installation for data collection
Summer 2023 – Water meter exchanges to begin
AMI Project Presentation at Council Retreat March 17, 2022
Staff Report to City Council July 26, 2022
Customer Service: 828-251-1122