College Station City Council members unanimously approved a $6.8 million contract to implement “smart” electric meters for College Station Utilities customers.

The contract with Landis+Gyr Technology and a $517,000 contract with IPKeys Power Partners for the advanced metering infrastructure and data management system come after various city departments spent more than a year evaluating nine proposals. 

It will take about 18 months to implement the system, Director of College Station’s electric utility Timothy Crabb said in a presentation to the council. The city will break even within about nine and a half years, and the system is expected to last 15 years or more, Crabb said. 

There are currently 8 million AMI meters in the state. Bryan Texas Utilities has used the technology since 2011. The system can give real-time information about outages for faster restoration, allow customers to set notifications on their usage, reduces reading errors and eliminates the need for meter readers to collect usage data. 

Resident Denise Snyder spoke against approving the contracts at the meeting and expressed concern over health risks that she read can come from automated metering. 

Councilman John Nichols said he understood Snyder’s concerns, but has found research that shows AMI meters are safe and effective. Councilman Bob Brick and Mayor Karl Mooney expressed similar sentiments. 

“I do see a tremendous number of advantages, in terms of customer service in particular, which is a big part of what we are here to do, and that is to serve the customers of this utility,” Nichols said. 

At Monday’s meeting, the council also approved a $517,118 five-year technical services agreement with Freeit Data Solutions for data backup and recovery. The agreement allows for a single platform for data protection and disaster recovery, retiring two older backup and recovery systems. The service is meant to prepare for natural or cyber disasters. 

Additionally, a $6.25 million amendment was made to the city’s fiscal year 2020 budget, which encompassed funds for the second phase of the Fun for All playground, the Aggie Field of Honor fence and shop building and more.

After hearing a presentation about e-cigarette use and vaping during the workshop meeting, the council instructed city staff to move forward with amending the city’s smoking ordinance to include phrasing about vaping. The amendment will also amend the age of minors to 21, with an exception for military service, and add that vape possession and use of e-cigarettes by minors is prohibited. Staff will present the amended ordinance to council for approval at a later meeting. 

At the start of the meeting, the Fun for All Playground committee presented an $875,000 check to the city for the second phase of construction of the playground. 

To view presentations from Monday’s meeting and workshop or see all agenda items, visit blog.cstx.gov

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