The City of Allen’s citywide transition to smart meters will impact all customers, and individual accounts are unable to opt out.
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Smart meters offer customers several benefits, such as added insight and control over their water consumption and increased confidence in the accuracy of water bills. By helping customers identify how much water they use and when they use it, smart meters eliminate surprises and even allow customers to get an estimate of their next monthly bill. Detailed, hourly data can also help identify unexpected water use caused by leaks or incorrectly-programmed sprinklers. In addition, smart meters allow for more efficient processes leading to reduced City service costs over time.
Smart water meters digitally measure and record the amount of water that passes from City of Allen water supply lines to individual customer water lines. Smart meters send a brief, encrypted, digital reading to a data collection unit three times each day. The data collection unit then sends an encrypted digital message to the City's secure data servers using the existing cellular network. Digital meter readings are then processed within the City's billing system and published on a secure customer dashboard so that customers can view an hourly log of water use, along with historic water use data.
Installing smart water meters at every Allen home and business is estimated to take 15 months, beginning in October 2022. During this time, crews will install approximately 100 meters per day. Installers don't maintain a calendar of exact installation dates by address. However, customers will receive a notification letter 5-6 weeks before installation, followed by a door hanger reminder within 2 weeks of installation. Commercial customers will be contacted separately to ensure installation does not interfere with business operations.
Installation typically takes 15-30 minutes. Crews will come to your door to notify you before work begins.
Crews will temporarily turn off your water before removing the old meter and replacing it with a smart meter. This process typically takes 15-30 minutes. Installers will come to your door to notify you before work begins. If no one is home, they will proceed with work unless the meter indicates active water use. Commercial customers will be contacted separately prior to installation to ensure work doesn't interfere with business operations.
The City of Allen has contracted with a company called Pedal Valves to install smart water meters at every Allen home and business. Installers will arrive in a marked vehicle and will wear a bright yellow vest with the Pedal Valves logo. Pedal Valves is the only contractor authorized by the City of Allen to work on your meter. Contractors will never ask to enter your home or backyard to complete required work.
Customers who enroll in the City of Allen water customer portal will be able to view details of their own water use. Customers can also add a secondary user (such as a spouse, roommate or business partner) or link multiple utility accounts once enrolled. As in the previous metering system, water use data is also accessible by a limited number of City of Allen employees who oversee customer billing and account details. State law restricts municipal utilities from providing any personal information or water usage information to third parties without the account holder’s agreement (HB 872 effective Sept 1, 2021).
No. Crews will proceed with installation unless the meter indicates active water use. Customers will find a door hanger notice on the front/main door once work is completed. Commercial customers will be contacted separately prior to installation to ensure work doesn't interfere with business operations.
Customers who enroll in automatic leak alert through the City of Allen customer portal will be notified when the meter senses continuous water use. For single-family residential homes, leaks are detected when at least 3 gallons of water are consumed every hour for a minimum of 24 hours. Other alerts can also be enabled by the customer, such as abnormally high or unplanned use notifications. Customers can choose to be notified by email and/or text message.
The upgrade to smart meters was funded through fees paid by developers of new commercial and residential properties. There is no charge related to the conversion.
As in the previous metering system, water use data can be accessed by a limited number of City of Allen employees who oversee customer billing and account details. This allows customer service representatives (CSRs) to better assist customers who have questions about their water bills or water use patterns. Though CSRs may observe water use patterns which seem to indicate violations of current watering restrictions, current code compliance practices require clear evidence of a violation by a municipal court trained employee or a code compliance officer before a citation and/or enforcement action is made.
Smart meters provide a more accurate measure of customer water use than previous, mechanical meters. Mechanical meters have been found to run more slowly over time, leading to instances where a customer's water use was underreported and therefore the bill to be low. The City of Allen stopped replacing old meters in 2019 in preparation for the citywide installation of smart water meters. This means meters that may now underreport water use may still be in use, resulting in lower bills that do not accurately reflect the full amount of water used. New meters will register all water consumption so customers are billed for accurate amounts.
The upgrade to smart meters was initially funded by fees paid by developers of new residential and commercial properties. The City of Allen adjusts water and sewer rates annually to balance revenues and expenses. For the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, 2022, treated water wholesale costs are increasing 13% and wholesale wastewater service costs are increasing 11%. These costs are paid to the North Texas Municipal Water District Additional funds are also needed to maintain Allen's 500+ miles of water lines and 370+ miles of sewer lines. It should be noted, the city has historically increased water and sewer rates when necessary and that rate adjustments usually become effective November 1 annually.
Smart water meters record water consumption only. Residential customers are billed for wastewater only up to the first 10,000 gallons of water use. For use less than 10,000 gallons of water, the bill is computed using a charge per 1,000 gallons of water used. Commercial customers are billed for both water and wastewater for all water used inside the facility. This is because commercial customers are required to have separate water meters for their exterior landscaping. Commercial irrigation accounts do not pay a wastewater charge because the water does not enter the wastewater system.
Smart water meters emit a brief radio frequency (RF) to transmit data from the meter to a data collection unit. The smart water meters selected by the City of Allen emit about 0.041 microwatts per square centimeter at a distance of 8 inches from the transmitter for a total daily transmission time of less than 1/3 of a second per day. This is far below the limit of 300 microwatts per square centimeter set by the Federal Communications Commission as a health standard. These low-level RF emissions do not interfere with any other electronic devices.
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