Michigan's Largest Automatic Meter Reading System Announced

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

"Safe Harbor" Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995: Statements in this press release regarding SEMCO Energy's business which are not historical facts are "forward-looking statements" that involve risks and uncertainties. For a discussion of such risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results to differ from those contained in the forward-looking statements, see "Risk Factors" in the Company's Annual Report or Form 10-K for the most recently ended fiscal year.