Meter wiring errors and billing multiplier errors remain the largest cause of revenue loss in the electric utility industry! We never get through a single day without someone working for us discovering something wrong with a metering application somewhere that is costing the given utility money.
We recently conducted routine field testing of transformer rated polyphase metering installations for a client that had elected to “back off” on the annual tests they had been doing because they had installed an AMR system and gone completely solid state with their meters about 5 years ago.
In the past we had been inspecting any new installations that had gone in since our last visit and testing 1/5th of their transformer rated polyphase meters per year. Of the locations selected for this particular year there were 40 new installations that had been installed over the past 5 years. Of that 40 locations 1 incorrect multiplier had gone 4 years without notice, 2 sites had CT’s that were left shunted for 3 years and 1 location had potential voltage leads swapped rendering the meter accuracy to be about 30%.
This is not a reflection on employee competency. It is not a reflection on equipment quality control. It is the simple fact that “Stuff Happens”.
One of the many services we provide, for lack of a better description, is a “Post installation Inspection”. Quite some time back the Iowa Utilities Board created a rule stating that in the event of a meter wiring error or misapplication of a billing multiplier that resulted in a loss of revenue the utility had the right to back-bill the consumer for up to 60 days. Unfortunately the one that states any multiplier error that results in an overcharge the consumer must be reimbursed in full, stayed in effect. So if you lose money for more than 60 days you just lose.
The point to be made is, this practice just makes good sense whether your state has such a rule or not. When you install a polyphase transformer rated metering package for any given service there is seldom going to be ample service loads applied on that date. It is commonly very difficult to come up with enough load to verify the wiring and burden test current transformers as should be done on all new installations.
By instigating a program whereby someone other than the original installer inspects and verifies the wiring, the ratios of any current and/or potential transformers, and runs a burden test on the current transformers to make sure no shunts or shorted wiring conditions exist that could end up causing a loss of revenue you eliminate the possibility of often extensive losses that may or may not be recoverable.
The follow up of these inspections is just as important as the inspection itself. Some paper trail must flow from the field inspection, with meter numbers, current and/or potential transformer ratios, and preferably photos of the equipment involved, all the way to the individual responsible for entering the billing multiplier in to the billing software.
Chapman Metering can perform these services as well as assist with setting up the program and training your field personnel to conduct the inspections.
Give us a call. We remain a very committed group of electric metering professionals, with nothing to sell but service.