25 May Work on Meter Modernization helps 3P Utility Services win Meter-rebuild Project
In 2018, Nicor Gas kicked off a project to automate the process of meter reading. Through customer surveys, Nicor Gas knew its consumers wanted timely data about their natural gas use. One of the vendors Nicor Gas chose to help modernize its 2.2 million meters was 3P Utility Services. Since then, Nicor Gas, 3P Utility Services, the Laborers’ International Union of North America, Chicago Laborers’ District Council and the Chicago Federation of Labor have teamed up to install approximately 1.4 million two-way communication devices onto existing natural gas meters.
“Nicor Gas asked us to begin a meter-rebuild project across Chicagoland,” said Sean Furlong, project manager at 3P Utility Services. “As the Meter Modernization project progressed, there were situations where a meter would have to be either relocated or rebuilt to be compatible with the state-of-the-art technology. In those cases, we’d break down the meter to the service riser and inlet going into the home. Then we’d install a new meter with the module.”
When a crew member arrives at a home, if the homeowner is present, the worker always has the necessary PPE, even a Tyvek suit if required, and performs a safety check inside the home including gas appliances and connections. The worker then goes outside to break down the meter and replace the unit with the upgraded system. Since beginning the project, Furlong says his crews have rebuilt approximately 13,000 meters and counting.
According to Furlong, part of the meter-rebuild project includes adding a customer convenience valve after the gas meter, which firefighters can use to turn off gas service in case of an emergency.
“Firefighters don’t typically have the operator qualifications to adjust a high-pressure gas valve, so the customer convenience valve gives them a way to quickly, safely cut service if there’s a fire or risk of fire in the home.”
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, there’s the added step of scheduling meter-rebuild appointments with homeowners. While this has caused some volume of work to carryover from 2020, all prioritized rebuilds are projected to be complete by the end of 2021.