Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) enables two-way communication between utilities and their customers. AMI is a critical component of the smart grid that helps utilities manage their energy distribution systems more effectively, while providing utility customers with detailed information about their energy usage.

An AMI implementation is an important step for utilities looking to modernize their infrastructure and stay competitive in the rapidly changing energy landscape. But it’s more than that. While it may seem like an AMI implementation has an exclusive metering and reading focus, it’s much more and can change how utilities do business. AMI has the power to transform operations across the organization. Here are a few ways AMI can have a positive effect on a variety of utility departments.

Field services. One of the key benefits of AMI is that it enables utilities to be proactive instead of reactive. With AMI, utilities have the power to quicklly detect and respond to power outages and other issues. A smart meter will send out an alert when there’s an outage as well as when power is restored. This reduces truck rolls and allows utilities to respond more quickly and effectively to reduce the risk of injury or damage to property during an emergency event. With AMI, one midwestern utility has been able to avoide over 95% of truck rolls.

Contact center. AMI can help make a buzzing contact center more efficient. Because AMI empowers utility customers with information about their energy usage—including the ability to set personalized consumption alerts—it can reduce calls into the contact center. A utility in the southern US reported that call volumes dropped by 35% after its AMI implementation. With information at their fingertips, customers can self-serve more effectively. This can help improve overall customer satisfaction. But customers will always need support from time to time. When customers do reach out for help, AMI can make accessing their usage data a breeze. With detailed data in hand, contact center reps can quickly resolve most issues, significantly increasing first-call resolution. And if your customers have concerns about the safety or security of AMI, we prepared 5 communication strategies to put customers’ minds at ease about AMI.

Billing. AMI provides utility customers with detailed information about their energy usage. This can help customers make more-informed decisions about their energy usage and save on their bills. A utility in New England reported a 30% decrease in billing disputes and inquiries following the implementation of AMI. With direct access to their energy usage data, customers can track their energy consumption and identify areas where they can make changes to reduce their usage.

Human resources. Implementing AMI will streamline many processes, especially manual ones like reading meters. Stakeholders may worry about lost jobs, but AMI should be seen as an chance to bring more opportunities to existing staff to broaden their skills and explore new roles. An AMI implementation will require new tasks and, therefore, new job opportunities and projects that have the potential to create new career paths for utility staff.

Engineering and operations. AMI enables utilities to detect outages and issues before they become a problem. For example, a customer of Loudon Utilities Board expressed gratitude on social media after a high-temperature alert informed the utility of an issue in the customer’s home. The family’s smart meter notified the utility of excessive heat at the meter and the utility was able to prevent damaged elements in the breaker panel from starting a fire. Loudon Utilities’ AMI work potentially saved lives.

AMI can be a huge project for utilities to take on, but implementing it provides utilities with a range of benefits that can help them improve their operational efficiency and better serve their customers.

Contributing Authors

Senior Vice President, Delivery, Technology Planning and Implementation Consulting

Nicole Naassan manages the fulfillment of E Source’s technology planning and implementation client project portfolio with a seasoned...

Senior Vice President, Business Development, Technology Planning and Implementation Consulting

Kody Salem provides outstanding support for utility technology initiatives such as smart grid and advanced metering infrastructure (AMI),...