Provincial COVID-19 protocols in place to protect customers and technicians
FORT ST. JOHN, May 26, 2021 – Today, Pacific Northern Gas Ltd. (PNG) announced that its annual meter exchange program—the replacement of natural gas meters for a range of homes and businesses with new meters—is now underway. At the same time, PNG continues to install Automated Meter Reading (AMR) technology in the Northeast to remotely read meters, both enhancing convenience and resulting in cost savings for customers.
“This annual meter exchange program helps to ensure customers’ meters remain accurate, safe and reliable, and is consistent with Measurement Canada requirements,” said Dominic Feenan, Director, Operations and Customer Service. “Each year, a select number of meters, as defined by Measurement Canada, are scheduled for replacement and exchange. This year, we are also in the midst of installing Automated Meter Reading for customers in the Northeast. Automated Meter Reading will improve the safety, convenience and efficiency of meter reading and gas billing by eliminating the need for PNG to enter customer property each month to read meters located outside homes and businesses.”
For customers scheduled for a meter exchange, the process should take approximately 15 minutes from start to finish. To do the exchange, their natural gas service will be shut off temporarily so the PNG technician can safely work. When the exchange is completed, the customer’s natural gas appliances will need to be relit by the technician. If a customer is not comfortable having a technician enter their home, the technician can provide general guidance so the customer can complete the relights themself.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, PNG is following all provincial health and safety protocols. Technicians entering homes will wear personal protection equipment including masks and eye and hand protection. Prior to conducting the exchange, our technicians will show ID and ask customers several questions to understand if they are experiencing any symptoms or if they are in quarantine so that PNG can take the necessary precautions which may include rescheduling.
Automated Meter Reading
Since February, PNG has been implementing AMR technology on all meters for customers in the Northeast. This involves installing a device called an encoder receiver transmitter (ERT) on a customer’s existing meter outside their home or business. It encodes the consumption and transmits the data to remote mobile data collectors using a drive-by system. After the readings are gathered, they are automatically uploaded to the billing system for billing purposes.
Currently, AMR installations are completed in Tumbler Ridge and underway in Dawson Creek, Fort St John and the surrounding area. Each installation will typically take less than 15 minutes with no interruption to gas service during this process. As long as a customer’s meter is accessible, no one needs to be home for the ERT installation.
Stratocom, PNG’s installation contractor for the ERT technology, will follow all provincial COVID-19 safety protocols, including minimizing in-person interactions wherever possible. All Stratocom installers and vehicles will carry identification clearly indicating that they are contracted by PNG.
“Safety is PNG’s top priority,” said Feenan. “Careful guidance and training have been provided to our Stratocom contractors and the new ERT module conforms with Industry Canada standards for radio frequency safety. The radio signal exposure is less than 1.5% of Canadian exposure limits (Safety Code 6, 2015) for someone standing 20 cm away from the meter.”
To learn more about PNG and its operations, visit www.png.ca or contact 1-800-667-2297. Specific questions about the AMR project will be answered through the project email AMRproject@png.ca or via the toll-free project phone line at 1-800-627-2836.