Advanced Metering Infrastructure
San Jose Water (SJW) has officially filed to install Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) throughout our service area. This technology offers the ability to access an online portal or smartphone app and see your water usage in real time. What does this mean for you? An easier and faster way to read your meter, detect leaks and monitor your water usage.
Remote, real time access to water usage at your convenience
Ability to monitor water usage and manage bill size before your bill arrives
Set alarms to indicate usage spikes and/or possible leaks
Early stage leak detection for quicker repairs
What is Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)?
Advanced Metering Infrastructure, sometimes referred to as “smart meters” or AMI, is an innovative technology that transforms the way customers and utilities can monitor water usage. AMI automatically and securely sends water usage data over a wireless communications network on an hourly basis, where it is stored in a cloud-based system. With AMI, you can track your usage on an hourly, daily or monthly basis by using an online portal or smartphone app.
Currently, SJW staff provides you with manual meter readings on a bi-monthly basis as part of your bill, which reduces your ability to manage your bill, conserve water and detect leaks early on.
How do you know that AMI works?
From 2015 through mid-2017, SJW piloted AMI technology in the Willow Glen area of San Jose to assess different metering technologies and transmission systems, and to evaluate the water saving potential of these new meters. The program compared water usage pre- and post-AMI implementation for about 400 customers. Overall, the pilot AMI program demonstrated significant customer benefits, including 24-hour access to water usage data, early leak detection, and timely notification about usage spikes.
Many customers have asked for this technology and we are excited to provide it to our full service area.
Why do I need AMI?
It turns out that viewing water usage has a pretty significant effect on how people save water and money!
AMI technology will allow both our customers and staff to work together to minimize water loss through leaks, improve water management and promote equity and sustainability resulting in cost-savings for you, while furthering the state’s ambitious water conservation goals.
AMI is free, easy to use and puts real-time data in your hands to show how much water your household is using (through a smartphone app or online portal). Readings are made hourly so you can get a better understanding of the amount of water you’re using and make quick adjustments as needed.
How does it help me reduce leaks?
With 24 readings a day, AMI can show a spike in water usage, which may indicate a leak. If this happens, the leak can be fixed before it escalates.
In contrast, currently, you might only know about a leak by reviewing the consumption information on your bill (available once every two months).
Does AMI help save water?
Yes, AMI has been shown to reduce water usage. AMI technology provides information that helps both you and SJW use water more efficiently. AMI meters make it easy to set personal budgets and conservation goals. You can even "experiment" and see the difference certain actions make in your water usage.
Want to know exactly how much water your irrigation system uses? Simple! You’ll be able to go online and see your water usage before and after your sprinklers run in the middle of the night. AMI meters are especially helpful if your goal is to stay within a particular water rate tier. SJW quantity charges are divided into three categories (0-3 CCF first tier; 4-18 CCF second tier; and over 18 CCF third tier). Usage can affect overall consumption charges (Note that 1 CCF = 748 gallons of water).
In our pilot study, we found many examples of water conservation. On Day 1 of the pilot, a leak registering 72 gallons per hour was identified. Quick notification from SJW allowed the customer to repair the leak and reduce water loss. Without AMI, the customer wouldn't have known about the problem until their next bill — almost 2 months later! AMI helped to avoid a high bill and possible property damage.
What is this legislation that I keep hearing about?
Following California’s historic drought (2014-2017), Governor Jerry Brown and the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) put in place permanent water use restrictions and other policies to make conservation a way of life in the state. Senate Bill 606 and Assembly Bill 1668, both signed into law by Governor Brown, define urban efficiency standards for both indoor and outdoor use and address the need to minimize water loss through leaks. Beginning in 2022, these laws will set initial indoor consumption at 55 gallons per capita per day, gradually dropping to 50 gallons per capita per day by 2030. Enforcement by the state will begin in 2025. Additional guidance and policies are being developed by the SWRCB in advance of enforcement which will begin in 2025. We will provide more information as it becomes available.
Why do we need to keep conserving water when we aren’t in a drought?
Conservation technology like AMI is more critical than ever — past droughts in California have left a prolonged impact on our community, and scientists predict that climate change will only continue to affect our state’s water supply. Andrew Gere, SJW President and COO, has stated that:
“California is still feeling the impact of our most recent severe drought. And, the reality of future droughts has changed the way people think about water. Customers want to know how they can manage their water consumption. AMI is a critical investment in our infrastructure that aligns with our goals of environmental stewardship and innovation as a solution. This technology would allow customers to more effectively monitor and control their usage and preserve valuable water resources – while complying with new state conservation standards and minimizing our carbon footprint.”
With climate predictions anticipating longer periods of drought that can stress our water supplies, conservation has become a necessary part of living in California. The state legislature enacted SB 606 and AB 1668 with conservation in mind.
How much will AMI cost?
For the typical residential customer with a 3/4-inch meter using 11 CCF (one CCF = 748 gallons) of water per month, the water bill will increase by less than one dollar per month over the next four years (as shown in the table below). The anticipated increases take into account the expected savings and other environmental benefits of AMI technology as compared to monthly billing and meter reading (e.g, no costs to send meter readers into the field, reduced greenhouse gas emissions from company vehicles, reduced water loss). In fact, this and other savings from implementing AMI may completely cover the costs of investing in this new technology.
Monthly Bill Proposed in SJW Application
These estimated bill amounts are based on current water rates and include a 1.23% charge to fund the CPUC. The rates in your water bill may vary slightly from the rates shown above due to temporary sur-credits or surcharges.
When will I actually get my new meter?
If our application is approved, we plan to install meters beginning in 2022 and continue through 2024. We plan to have meters operational by early 2025, coinciding with the enforcement of the new urban water efficiency standards under Senate Bill 606 and Assembly Bill 1668.
Can I choose not to install AMI and opt out?
Yes, we anticipate that an “opt out” option will be available as part of our program.
So, what’s next?
AMI deployment by SJW is subject to CPUC review and approval. While we won’t know the results of CPUC’s assessment of this business case until early 2021, we are excited about the possibilities for our customers! To stay informed about AMI and for other water news and service information, follow SJW on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.