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City of Gonzales, La., Case Study

The City of Gonzales, La., Improves Billing Accuracy and Customer Satisfaction With netAMP Enabled™

With a population of 11,000 residents, the City of Gonzales, La., was named a top five city to live in by the National Chamber of Commerce. Gonzales is located between the capital city of Baton Rouge and the lively city of New Orleans. Managing water service across the city is an ongoing priority.  

The City of Gonzales initially launched a pilot project to replace 500 difficult-to-reach, manually-read water meters with a drive-by solution. During the pilot, Gonzales learned about the advantages of netAMP Enabled™, the industry’s first metering-as-a-service (MaaS) Program, which gives utilities one comprehensive solution to easily upgrade existing metering programs and enhance customer service capabilities.

“netAMP Enabled gives us an advanced metering solution that we didn’t even know was possible with our budget,” said Mayor Barney Arceneaux. “We upgraded all 5,000 endpoints throughout the city leveraging a fixed, monthly subscription and then passed the subscription cost to our customers. It’s a win-win for the city and for our residents.”

The Challenge

The City was struggling to give their customers accurate and timely water bills. The challenge stemmed from manual meter reading and old, outdated technology, specifically:

  • Manual meter reading is prone to inaccurate data collection due to human error.
  • Meter accuracy declines with age and results in overcharging or undercharging.

The city also had staffing challenges making timely water reading difficult and often resulting in estimated monthly usage.

  • Billing cycles could vary between six-week to two-week cycles. The inconsistency drove increased customer complaints.

The Solution

The City of Gonzales selected netAMP Enabled to improve billing accuracy, timely meter reads and customer service. The revolutionary MaaS Program exceeded all their requirements. netAMP Enabled also eliminated all budgetary barriers associated with deploying an advanced metering program.

The new program provided all the advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) equipment, software and services – including planning and readiness, installation, integration, training, maintenance and support. The utility selected a combination of E-Series® Ultrasonic meters for residential applications, E-Series Ultrasonic Plus meters, ORION® LTE-M Cellular endpoints and BEACON® Advanced Metering Analytics (AMA) software suite. Additionally, the city already has a number of customers signed up for EyeOnWater®, which allows users to monitor their water consumption via an app. UMS performed all the work and customized the MaaS program to meet their unique needs.

The Results

Results of the smart water metering program include:

  • Reduced meter-reading time by 71%. The city was able to push a button and read three routes in lieu of taking a week to read the same meters.
  • Improved accurate and timely billing.
  • Minimized labor, gas and vehicle maintenance costs associated with the manual meter reading.
  • netAMP Enabled allowed Gonzales to detect leaks proactively and reduce lost revenue.

In the first month after the netAMP Enabled implementation, Gonzales received an automated alert about extremely high-water usage – in excess of 700 gallons an hour – from a residential customer. The city quickly determined that a main connection to the pool had burst and the excess water was visually undetectable because it flowed into the bayou behind the home.

“Our customer confidence and satisfaction sky-rocketed since implementing netAMP Enabled,” said Jackie Baumann, chief engineer at The City of Gonzales. “Customers went from very inaccurate and irregular billing cycles to a stable, reliable bill.”