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Automated Meter Reading

Columbia Gas of Maryland has changed the way it reads natural gas meters by installing a radio-based Automated Meter Reading (AMR) system. This exciting new technology is part of the company's continuing efforts to improve service to our customers.

The AMR system uses a small battery-powered transmitter to read natural gas meters from a vehicle. As the specially equipped vehicle drives by, it will send a signal to the AMR device on your meter, which in turn transmits the meter reading data to a computer in the vehicle. Once the data is collected, it is then supplied to our billing system where it is matched to your account number via a unique transmitter ID.

Advantages of Automated Meter Reading

  • Convenience -- Meter readers will not be in your yard or in your home, and you no longer have to make arrangements for access to your meter if it's located inside your home or behind a locked fence. Also, there's no need to restrain pets on scheduled meter-reading days.
  • Accuracy -- Electronic reads are more accurate than manual reads as they reduce the risk of human error. AMR devices eliminate the need to estimate meter reads, ensuring that your gas bills will reflect only the amount of gas you've actually used.
  • Reliability -- More than 40 million customers worldwide now use the AMR system with excellent results and minimum maintenance.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Automated Meter Reading?

Automated Meter Reading (AMR) is a computerized, radio-transmitted meter-reading system. This technology has allowed us to eliminate every-other-month estimated meter readings and provides us with actual monthly electronic meter readings.

How will my meter be read by AMR?

An AMR device uses radio technology to obtain a reading from your gas meter without having to gain physical access to the meter. As a specially equipped vehicle drives by, it sends a signal to the device on your meter, which in turn transmits the meter reading data to a computer in the vehicle.

How is the AMR device powered?

The AMR device is powered by its own long-term battery that is expected to last up to 20 years. The device will be replaced by Columbia when necessary. The unit does not draw any current from your electrical system.

Will the AMR System interfere with my home electronic equipment?

It is highly unlikely that you will have any interference from the AMR System. The AMR signal meets all applicable FCC regulations and operates on a frequency similar to other devices such as car toll transponders or portable telephones.

Does the AMR device in any way impact the security of my account information?

No information about your account is broadcast by the AMR device. The security-enabled device transmits a code designating your meter and the current reading on the meter to the device carried by the meter reader or within their vehicle. The matching of that information to your account occurs later within a secure network.

Columbia has said for years that its estimated reads are extremely accurate and that any discrepancies with the actual reads are quickly reconciled. If that's true, why did you eliminate the estimated reads after all this time?

Although estimated meter readings are very accurate based on the customers historical usage patterns, installation of new appliances, the number of household occupants, extreme weather conditions and other factors can cause unexpected changes in customers gas usage during estimated months. With monthly meter reading, billing will be based on actual natural gas usage every month.