Where are the guarantees Abilene electronic water meters will deliver claimed savings?

Pratt on TexasAbilene officials are pushing to spend around eighteen million dollars of ratepayer money to change tried-and-true water meters for new electronic devices ridiculously called “smart meters.”

City Manager Robert Hanna claims that water rates will not have to be raised for the project but fails to explain that the project is the taking on of low-interest debt through the Texas Water Development Board which certainly does have to be paid back.

What Mr. Hanna seems to be saying is that Abilene is already charging so much over water delivery cost that under the current inflated rate structure it can take on an $18,000,000 project and not have to raise rates. That should cause Abilene citizens to ask why, if the city has so much extra margin in water billings, it is not lowering rates or putting that money toward the development of new water sources?

This will be another never ending project that will cost the citizens of Abilene millions of dollars on the front end, back end, and forever.

A Pratt on Texas listener made a comment that is spot-on and almost universally true for most all analog to digital conversions. John wrote: “Just watch, they will install all of the new meter control devices in some phase of the project, then come back with a new requisition request that the meters that have been installed need to be upgraded to a newer version due to technological improvements over the original purchased. This will be another never ending project that will cost the citizens of Abilene millions of dollars on the front end, back end, and forever.”

That is what residents of any city should demand on these projects, whether water or electric meters: Contractual guarantees that projected efficiencies and savings are delivered or the vendor pays the difference.

Such as been the case across the board and worse local governments seem to embark on these projects without contractual performance guarantees from vendors.

That is what residents of any city should demand on these projects, whether water or electric meters: Contractual guarantees that projected efficiencies and savings are delivered or the vendor pays the difference.

Comments

  1. Kyle McAlister says:

    Robert, incorrect. We do not have such an extra margin in billing. The City is NOT overcharging, it is under collecting. A recent study of meters found, on average, about a 5% “under reporting” by conventional meters. Meaning that about 5% of water being used is not being billed for. The new meters will allow the City to more accurately collect revenue for water being used. That point was discussed today.

    Also, this technology will allow citizens to monitor water usage more effectively.

    All of this information is available during our Council Meetings. If you are “reporting” on these meetings, I again, offer you the invitation to attend them to get all the facts for yourself.

    Thanks,

    Kyle McAlister
    Abilene City Council Place 5

    • Pratt on Texas says:

      As usual you do not understand the point and confuse under billing of ratepayers with the gross margin enjoyed by the department.

      Any reasonable person can understand that if the water services department has the margin in its operating budget to take on an $18 million project, including the repayment to the Water Development Board for that, without raising water rates, as management states that it can, that means, de facto and prima facie, that it is charging at least that much over real costs at present. If not it would not have the operating cash margin to do as it states: Execute an $18 million project without new revenue.

      If your point, which was not articulated, is that more accurate billings in the future is where the funds will come from (on speculation) to pay for the meters then, such further anchors my point: Where is the guarantee?

      To not be able to see this at first glance should be of concern to your constituents. You have provided nothing in your statement to counter the argument which is a habit with you making it seem that you simply don’t understand much.

What do you think?...

© Pratt on Texas / Perstruo Texas, Inc.