Bryan Municipal Utilities is close to an agreement to upgrade its metering system and Director of Utilities Nathan Gardner wants to assure customers about the change.
“It’s going to be safe and secure,” he said during Tuesday’s regular Bryan Board of Public Affairs meeting. “I just want to make sure that’s understood.”
An advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) is an integrated system of digital smart meters, communications networks and data management systems that enables two-way communication between utilities and customers.
Officials have said an AMI will allow BMU to more efficiently manage its electric and water systems billing and customer service workloads, improve network reliability, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide customers with increased information to help control their water and energy use.
BMU has been incrementally moving toward implementing an AMI for over a decade but the effort has been hampered by a series a changes at the director position, and then the pandemic.
But on Tuesday, Gardner said BMU is close to finalizing an agreement with Eaton, an international electrical, hydraulic and mechanical power management company, to make it a reality.
He said he was optimistic he’d be able to bring the agreement to the board for approval during their next meeting, set for May 18.
At least one customer, in an public forum entry published in The Bryan Times, questioned the safety and security of advanced meters, expressing concerns about microwave radiation and the privacy of the information collected.
Gardner stressed that many other communities, including Montpelier, utilize an AMI and they are virtually universally found to present no health or security risk.
In fact, on its website, the American Cancer Society says that the amount of radiation emitted from a smart meter is less than that given off my a cell phone and that it is “very unlikely that living in a house with a smart meter increases risk of cancer.”
In other action, the board:
• Approved the hiring of Justin Waldvogel as a warehouse employee, Beckett Stark as a part-time videographer and Clayton Rupp as a temporary, part-time laborer.
• Approved the retirement of longtime city assistant office manager/payroll clerk Sandra Bostater, with regrets and well-wishes.
• Unanimously voted to resume in-person meetings starting with the May 18 meeting. The board had been meeting remotely since pandemic-related orders first went into effect. Board President Tom Sprow noted that anyone uncomfortable with meeting in person may still participate via teleconference and officials will abide by social distancing and mask-wearing recommendations.
• Met in closed, executive session to discuss acquisition of property and imminent litigation, with no action reported afterward.