ATCO Gas Smart Meters
The term Smart Meter is used loosely to to describe utility meters which emit radio frequency (RF) radiation. Even though ATCO Gas calls their radio frequecy emitting devices “ERTs”, I would still consider these “Smart Meters” based on the emissions they emit.
Below is some information gathered about the ATCO Gas’ new utility meters.
- In 2011 ATCO Gas made the decision to implement automated meter reading (AMR) technology. In Alberta this will affect 300 communities where 1 million meters will be converted over to the new technology over a period of 4 years. ATCO Gas keeps a list of communities that are being converted in the next few months on their website.
- The meter conversion is a simple 10 minute procedure conducted by an installation company hired by ATCO Gas called Corix. An Encoder, Receiver, Transmitter device (ERT) is installed, which allows wireless access to the gas meter without anyone entering your yard, home, or business. According to ATCO Gas, the typical residential gas meter conversion will include the installation of an Itron 100G Data Logging FN ERT (spec sheet) on the existing gas meter. The device has the following characteristics:
- Powered from an internal “A” battery which is rated for 20 years.
- Data transmitted from an ERT has rated output power range between + 10dBm (10 milliwatts) to + 24dbM (250 milliwatts). For comparison, the peak output power of most cellphones is around 1-2 watts.
- Uses a spread spectrum radio frequency similar to that of 900MHz cordless phones (908MHz to 924MHz ISM band).
- Will continue to display the gas meter analog signal that can be used to confirm billing information manually.
- No capability to shut off gas service wirelessly.
- According to ATCO Gas, the typical operation of a Itron 100G Data Logging FN ERT includes the following:
- Every 15 seconds a pulse will be transmitted by the ERT 24 hours a day 7 days a week. If one of the ERT pulses is picked up by ATCO Gas personnel carrying a wireless handheld device or laptop in vehicle, the ERT transmits the unique meter identifier and current gas meter reading information only. Total transmit time of the device is 17 minutes per month which is 5,760 electromagnetic pulses /day.
- The Itron 100G FN ERT is capable of more than what is described above and can be reprogrammed in the future to perform the following functions:
- Storage of up to 40 days of hourly gas information which can support mid cycle rate changes.
- Output power is adjustable to up to 500 milliwatts.
- Adjustment of bubble up rate (frequency in which pulsed radio signals are sent)
- Support for neighbourhood area networks or mesh networks where additional wireless devices can be installed in the neighbourhood allowing instantaneous reads and possibly reprogramming of the ERT devices.
- One can opt out from having the ERT (smart meter installed) from ATCO. However, a policy is being written that will outline what will happen to those who choose not to have the smart meters installed. To opt out, simply call ATCO Gas customer service at 780-424-5222 to initiate your request to opt out of the AMR.