This piece was originally published in the August 2018 issue of electroindustry.
Dennis Siegert, Water Director, Johnson Controls
For years, city leaders in Martinsville, Virginia, knew that a replacement for thousands of water meters was inevitable. Upgrades like these are a necessary but significant capital expense for any municipality, and Martinsville was able to make the project a reality without raising resident taxes or fees.
The local government experts at Johnson Controls partnered with Martinsville to plan, prioritize, and enable the improvements through an energy savings performance contract (ESPC). Through the ESPC, the $7.8 million of infrastructure improvements are offset by guaranteed energy and operational savings.
Thousands of aging water and electrical meters were replaced with advanced metering infrastructure. These new meters reduce maintenance costs and ensure full revenue from utility payments for the city by guaranteeing accurate metering for a full 20-year period. Data can be captured electronically and viewed from city offices; this completely streamlines the meter reading process by removing the need to visit each home and business one by one.
With real-time insights and data, the city has elevated customer service to a new level. Automatic alerts about unusual activity are flagged to the city in real time, providing an opportunity to proactively reach out to homeowners and business owners and let them know that they may have a leak or an electrical issue, such as an outage or a fire risk.
In addition to meter upgrades, the city replaced 3,000 streetlights with new LED lighting for a more high-quality, consistent, and cost-effective lighting solution.
The yearlong water meter upgrade project was completed in March 2017 in tandem with lighting and electrical meter upgrades. The initiative is expected to deliver $582,000 in savings each year.