The Utilities Board of the city of Andalusia, Alabama, U.S., is implementing the Aclara STAR Network system, an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) that will serve both water and electric customers. Andalusia's implementation for 4700 electric customers and 5000 water customers is one of a growing list of dual-utility projects that deploy the STAR Network system.

The AMI system's radio-frequency-based meter hardware will operate with Badger Meter (www.badgermeter.com) water meters installed in pits covered with concrete lids and with Landis & Gyr (www.landisgyr.com) electric meters. Aclara (www.aclara.com) also will provide a customer-service interface to Andalusia's existing billing system that will show daily usage information and allow customers to choose their own billing dates. Plus, the interface will allow the utility to do on-demand readings and handle select voltage retrieval. In addition, the system can be expanded to remotely connect and disconnect the electric meters and accommodate time-of-use metering.

The STAR Network system uses licensed 450-MHz to 470-MHz frequencies to ensure that signals from its meter transmission units travel further and penetrate materials better with less interference than signals from products that rely on unlicensed, higher frequencies.

Furthermore, it collects meter readings redundantly on a utility-defined schedule, ensuring that utilities and their customers always have the data they need to make smart decisions regarding resource use. Finally, the system provides flexibility to utilities with its support of multiple standards-based communication protocols and technologies.