BATTLE CREEK, Mich., Oct. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Southeastern Michigan Gas
Enterprises (SEMGE) President and Chief Executive Officer William L. Johnson
today announced that SEMGE subsidiaries Battle Creek Gas and Michigan Gas
Companies will read more than 70,000 gas meters using a wireless automatic
meter reading system (AMR). The system will be expanded to cover 228,OOO
Michigan customers by 1999.
At the heart of the system is an automated meter reading module -- known
as "ERT" because it encodes, receives and transmits data -- attached to gas
meters at customers' premises. ERTs transmit customer gas usage information
directly to the utility via radio. ERT modules can be remotely read by
various radio-equipped devices that support walk-by, drive-by or fixed network
automatic meter reading.
The largest ever installed by a utility in Michigan, the system will
employ a mobile drive-by unit to read 70,000 Battle Creek and Holland meters.
A fixed network for an additional 2,000 meters will be employed within the
city of Battle Creek. Also included in the project is wireless handheld
system to be employed on difficult-to-access meters in the city of Marquette
in the Upper Peninsula. Installation of the initial phase will begin in
November with completion scheduled for May 1997.
"This solution allows us to lower operating costs while dramatically
improving customer service," said SEMGE Chief Operating Officer Carl Porter.
"It also gives us the ability to expand the range of products and services we
develop in the future." Porter referred to the Company's recently announced
Option Plus program that provides residential and small commercial customers
the ability to purchase gas from providers other than the local gas company.
Referencing more than a decade of natural gas industry deregulation that
is quickly "unbundling" services available from utilities, SEMGE officials
also indicated that a range of offerings, such as home alarm monitoring, could
be easily provided using the system.
The system is being provided by Itron, a leading supplier of energy
information and communications solutions to the utility industry. Itron is
headquartered in Spokane, WA.
Southeastern Michigan Gas Enterprises (Nasdaq: SMGS) is the parent company
of Battle Creek Gas Company, which serves 35,000 customers in 13 cities and
towns including Battle Creek; Michigan Gas Company, which serves 98,000
customers in six counties in southwestern and western Michigan and seven
counties in the Upper Peninsula; and Southeastern Michigan Gas Company, which
serves 95,000 customers in eastern and central Michigan.
SOURCE Southeastern Michigan Gas Enterprises
CONTACT: Francis Lieder of Southeastern Michigan Gas Enterprises, 810-987-7900, Ext. 4l86, or fax, 810-987-4570