Zenner

An example of the new residential meters being installed throughout Banning.

As part of Banning’s transition to smart meters, one of its own local businesses will benefit.

The city council approved paying Zenner USA, a Texas firm that bought the former Performance Meter Inc. in Banning, $1.6 million to purchase automatic metering infrastructure, water meters, communications equipment and software and hardware at its Aug. 27 meeting.

The meters themselves will be made in Banning.

The city also approved $16,618.50 to purchase Seba Leak Sensors from Marina Del Ray-based WCT Products; $71,875 for hydro generators and PRV Flowmeters from Cla-Val of Perris. The city also budgeted $456,482.88 blanket purchase order for Indio-based Core & Main to buy meter boxes and lids.

The city is in the process of converting from manual meter reading to relying instead on automatic meter reading, which depends on advanced metering infrastructure that can provide real-time detailed information on consumption patterns and detect anomalies.

The water utility’s smart meters will complement the city’s previously installed electric meter system, as both systems will provide data that will be processed centrally at city hall, according Public Works Director Art Vela.

And the smart meters will allow the city to provide consistent billing cycles — grievance residents had expressed at city council meetings for a few years.

The software for the water meters will have leak detection software along the main line and at the residents’ water meters, so the utility can alert customers immediately when an issue arises, providing savings to customers in repairs and proactive equipment replacements.

Two years ago the Banning Electric Utility began installing smart meters for its customers.

It cost the utility roughly $2.5 million to convert the meters for 12,000 customers. The meters send out a radio signal that allows meter readers to get real-time data remotely without having to walk onto property.

According to Vela, the radio frequency emitted from the meters meets FCC health standards, transmitting signals that are a fraction of what is transmitted by cell phones.

An advantage that Zenner offered was a free “in-the-field” trial, including providing 100 meters, to the city, whereas Itron was requesting the city to purchase meters in order to conduct a pilot study.

Zenner’s prices were also slightly more advantageous compared to Itron, according to Vela.

The city also won a $300,000 Bureau of Reclamation grant to use for the project.

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at dheiss@recordgazette.net , or by calling (951) 849-4586 x114.

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at dheiss@recordgazette.net , or by calling (951) 849-4586 x114.

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