The planned expansion, slated for deployment over four years, will begin in March 2006 and wrap up in 2009. AMR-enhanced meters will be installed in Champaign, Urbana, Danville, Bloomington, Decatur, Peoria, East Peoria, Pekin, Illinois Metropolitan East area of St. Louis, Mattoon, Charleston and Carbondale during that time.
The additional installations will bring the number of automated meters on the Ameren system to 2.4 million, making Ameren one of the leading U.S. utilities using automated metering services.
"Ameren's expansion of AMR will enhance our operations and lead to higher levels of customer satisfaction," said Scott A. Cisel, Ameren president of Illinois Energy Delivery. "Striving for the most effective way to complete the greatest amount of work in the least amount of time, we are deploying the system to our customers in the highest density areas first."
Once installed, the automated meters provide a number of immediate customer benefits:
• Virtually eliminates estimated bills;
• Less intrusion on customers' property;
• "Smart" system reports power outage to a meter, which helps Ameren identify a trouble area for better outage response;
• Customer service representatives better equipped with information to assist customers with billing questions; and
• Special meter readings on the day requested, for example when a customer is moving and wants service turned on or taken out of the customer's name on a specific day.
"The Cellnet network has helped Ameren improve customer service and lower operating costs in other parts of our service area," Cisel said. "We are pleased to bring these benefits to a larger segment of Illinois customers. The new system will ultimately lead to cost savings for Ameren, which brings long- term benefits to customers, as well."
"Ameren is one of many Cellnet customers undergoing significant network expansions this year," said Mike Zito, Cellnet president and CEO. "We look forward to helping Ameren meet its aggressive customer service and operational goals. We are committed to expanding the functionality and capabilities of the Cellnet system while continuing to deliver the flexibility, value and service that our customers have relied on for over a decade."
Cellnet Technology, Inc., a privately held corporation, is the leading provider of real-time automated meter reading (AMR) and automation solutions to the utility industry. Based in Atlanta, Ga., Cellnet supplies gas, water, and electric utilities with highly reliable, field-proven products that enable them to communicate with residential, commercial and industrial meters using wireless network communications. The Cellnet InfiNet system combines fixed network AMR technology with wireless mesh technology to bring the most comprehensive offering - merging scalability, flexibility, and cost- effectiveness - available in the market today. Cellnet is dedicated to combining its leading technology and proven industry experience to continue to provide the industry with the most reliable and proven AMR solutions available.
With assets of more than $18 billion, St. Louis-based Ameren Corp. [NYSE:AEE] serves approximately 2.3 million electric customers and more than 900,000 natural gas customers in a 64,000-square-mile area of Illinois and Missouri. Ameren owns a diverse mix of electric generating plants strategically located in its Midwest market with a generating capacity of more than 15,200 megawatts.
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