The City of Turlock started installing water meters in 2007 to comply with a 2004 State Law, AB 2572. As the City worked to raise awareness and convert to the new billing system, there has been an ongoing issue with the endpoints that transmit the data to the City of Turlock.
In 2010, the City of Turlock had to replace 2,500 endpoints before the official start of the metered billing in January 2011. Since that time there has been continued failure of these endpoints at a rate of approximately 8 per day, meaning that there are 1,500 homes that need to be manually read by City staff.
In addition, there are other billing issues associated with the transmitters such as misinformation. Many customers have had issues with inconsistent readings with more than average days in the billing cycle. All of the misreads result in additional staff time and costs to the City of Turlock that exceed the actual revenue for the service.
At the October 11, 2011, Turlock City Council Meeting, City Staff proposed to work with Itron, the original provider of the endpoints, to solve this issue by taking advantage of a special warranty offer although there is an existing 5 year warranty on current equipment. The current meters have only one more year of warranty and would be replaced at no cost to the city. However, Itron has proposed to replace all of the transmitters with their newest model that they feel is more reliable and comes with a 20 year Warranty.
There would be a cost to the City of Turlock to upgrade software, install antennas and integrate the new system with the billing system. The total cost of the upgrade would be $525,000. The value of the new transmitters that Itron would provide and install at their own expense is $2,509,287.
Although there is a cost with the special warranty offer, staff feels that the City would get a much more advanced technology and system reliability would be at the 99% level or better.
Kevin Keim, regional representative for Itron, was asked to explain the difference in technology and the warranty by Councilman Bill DeHart.
"We much appreciate your willingness to work with us on this as that’s assuming an awful lot of expense to your company,” said Councilman DeHart. “But on the same token, $525,000 is a lot to us too."
Keim explained that the endpoints that the City of Turlock currently have was the first design of a networked reading device. Since 2005, Itron has manufactured over 80 million of these networked devices and have found a way to make a better, more robust endpoint which is the reason for the 20 year warranty versus a 5 year warranty. The addition of the antenna will help maintain the consistency of the system and give the City of Turlock the reliability that they are looking for.
Council unanimously approved moving forward with the newer endpoints that Itron proposed installing. Council is expected to appropriate the funds needed for this project from at the next Council meeting.