Berlin Testing Remote Metering Program Potential

BERLIN — The Mayor and Council of Berlin invested $18,832 this week into the beginnings of a remote metering program that officials hope will help modernize the town.

“The initial investment surely is extremely reasonable for the potential,” said Mayor Gee Williams.

There are currently five of the Nexgrid electric remote monitors running, according to Town Utilities Director Tim Lawrence. Those meters will serve as the foundation for a pilot program that could eventually lead to dozens of electric and water remote monitors in town if the council is satisfied with how the next few months progress.

“It sounds like we have very little to lose and a lot to potentially gain,” said Williams.

The new meters will allow for an unprecedented level of control and information, according to Nexgrid CEO Costa Apostolakis.

“When you have an outage, you instantly know how many outages you have,” he told the council.

The meters will also show energy consumption in real-time, including a dollars and cents breakdown. The system is relatively flexible and supports General Electric meters as well as nearly any type of water meter, according to Apostolakis.

The system will also be able to locate specific points of energy inefficiency.

The pilot program for the monitors is set to last for six months after which the council can either do nothing, fully upgrade the town or begin a partial upgrade.

“You could add to the system in pieces,” said Lawrence.

From his perspective, the remote monitoring system could be a huge boon to the utilities department, especially during power outages.

“So we don’t have to go searching for where the problem is,” said Lawrence.

If Berlin does decide to stick with Nexgrid, Apostolakis promised that the remote monitoring system will be a good long-term investment.

“This should last upwards of 20 years,” he told the council.

As an added bonus, Apostolakis explained that the entire system is adaptable and Nexgrid has anticipated things like alternate energy and solar becoming more prevalent in the coming decades.

During the pilot program, Town Administrator Tony Carson said that Berlin will seek grants to help fund an eventual full upgrade.

Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) grants will likely be targeted, said Carson.