“We wanted a modern invoicing system that would keep both the Lorca and Mula residential customers and ourselves happy. Now we have it. We’ve surpassed our initial expectations. The new Nuri Telecom AiMir remote meter-reading system makes Gas Natural’s gas measurement among the most technically advanced in Europe.” Maria Trinidad Carretero, Technology Director

Company
Gas Natural (GN) is one of the 10 largest European energy multi-nationals and a leader in the vertical integration of gas and power in Spain and Latin America. It is also the largest global LNG operator in the Atlantic basin. The merger of Gas Natural and Union Fenosa in 2009 resulted in company operations in 23 countries on five continents with over 20 million customers, 9 million of those in Spain.

Gas Natural is the leader in the Spanish gas distribution market, operating through 10 distribution companies across 13 autonomous communities, and two sales companies.

Gas Natural’s contract portfolio, which includes 25 bcm of gas, and its access to a further gas supply portfolio of 6.5 bcm make it one of the leading utility companies in Europe, strongly positioned in the gas business, conventional power generation and the integrated management of fuel supplies.

Gas Natural, despite its world stature and dramatic growth, is highly cognizant of its corporate responsibility to satisfy the growing demand for energy required for societal development and protecting the environment and turning the search for cleaner energy sources into a necessity.

Situation
Gas Natural has over 5.7 million gas meters deployed throughout Spain of which 4 million meter or about 70% of the total are located inside the consumer premises. Gas Natural had been using manual meter reading to read over 5.7 million meters. The task of meter reading was outsourced to third party companies for bimonthly meter data collection. The cost of meter reading varied from city to city even when serviced by the same contractor. The company was spending over 10 million Euro’s each year to pay for the meter reading.

However, company’s manual reading system was inefficient, especially since over 70% of the meters were inside the consumer premises and access to them when was a major problem. An average of nearly 800,000 meter about 14% of the total meters, couldn’t be read due inaccessibility to the customer premises for variety of reasons. The statistics showed that the number of unread meters was increasing and hence the cost. Inefficient meter reading process had a major impact on customer billing. Customer billing information was not as accurate or comprehen sive as Gas Natural wanted it to be. It was reflected in number of calls (nearly 720,000 calls per year) they received from irate customers.

The answer to Gas Natural problems was a system that increased the efficiency of Gas Natural meter reading operations with a leap from a manual meter reading process to an automated meter reading (AMR) solution.

The Gas Natural targeted a variety of objectives for improved customer service in meter reading and substantially improves its business processes and increase energy efficiency. Gas Natural’s primary goals were elimination of estimated gas bills and minimized disruption for customers

Having established the need for a new remote meter reading system, the Gas Natural chose an integrated metering and communication solution from Nuri Telecom from a wide field of well-known suppliers, to deliver value to the utility and its customers.

CHALLENGE
An age old labor-intensive, costly and inaccurate process of physical meter reading, escalating customer complaints, non-optimum energy efficiencies and business process and distribution asset management along with European and Spanish legislation on increasing energy efficiency (Royal Decree 809/2006 and associated regulations for energy meters)prompted gasNatural to modernize and make its gas metering infrastructure more efficient and cost-effective.

SOLUTION
Gas Natural Group undertook to carefully study and analyze advanced metering technologies and solutions provided by a long list of worldwide suppliers to determine the best fit to solve its challenges. GN selected Nuri Telecom’s AiMir AMM system to conduct a pilot project in the historic cities of Lorca and Mula in Southeastern Spain. Nuri designed and successfully deployed a highly efficient, flexible and cost effective solution that allowed GN to remotely and periodically collect metering and efficiency data from its customers throughout the cities.

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