CITY HALL — In the next step in the city’s $28.5-million project to equip customers with smart meters that track real-time water and electricity usage, the City Council on Tuesday is set to open bidding for the installation of the meters.
The council is expected to approve the issuing of bids to select a contractor to install the Smart Grid system, called the Advanced Metering Infrastructure/Meter Data Management System, as well as about 88,000 electric meters and 34,000 water meters.
In July, the City Council unanimously approved the $28.5-million contract with Itron for the development of the Smart Grid system, as well as the purchase of the meters. The company officially began developing the system last month, according to a city report.
All Glendale Water & Power customers will receive new meters. Once installed, the meters will allow two-way communication with the utility and for the first time will provide customers with real-time usage data.
In preparation for the bidding process, utility staff issued a request to pre-qualify bidders for the process. Only those who are pre-qualified will be able to submit a bid.
Once a contractor is chosen, the installation will start with a “proof of concept,” where the contractor will install 1,000 electric and 500 water meters to test the system for any bugs, said Vishwa Tiwari, project manager for the utility. The installations are expected to begin in January.
“That testing will take three to four months to make sure everything works properly,” he said.
The test installation will use two areas — one near City Hall, the other in the hillsides of North Glendale — to test how the technology will work in different geographic areas.
“The system involves wireless connections,” Tiwari said. “We want to test out different configurations and commercial, industrial and residential areas.”
Hailed by utility officials as the greatest improvement in recent decades, the meters will help customers conserve by showing the power and water they consume on a daily basis.
On the utility’s water side, new meters were long overdue, principal engineer Pat Hayes said in a September interview.
Water meters don’t last well beyond 15 years, yet more than two-thirds of the city’s water meters are older than 15 years and likely underreporting usage, he said.
“We recognized this about four years ago, that our actual ability to meter the water going to the customer is hampered by really old meters,” he said.
The meters will also be equipped with leak-detection technology to help utility officials spot leaks in their early stages. Full-scale replacement of the remaining meters is scheduled to begin in April and be completed by August.