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Frequently Asked Questions

How does the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system work?

  • It allows electronic reading and eliminates need for visual inspection.
  • Uses a radio network to transmit customer use data.

Who is involved in the AMI Initial Implementation Project?

About 4 percent of city meters will have AMI technology installed in the Initial Implementation Project (11,000 meters out of 275,000). Installation will primarily occur in larger meters used in commercial, industrial and multi-family locations. These are often the more challenging and costly to read by visual inspection.

In addition, about 1,000 meters in Rancho Bernardo will be fitted with this technology to evaluate benefits to residential customers that are billed every two months only. These customers were chosen because they all live in one pressure zone which makes evaluation of the new technology easier.

How is this project beneficial to customers?

  • Electronic data transfer will be more rapid and reliable than visual meter reading.
  • Meter malfunction, leaks, vandalism, tampering will be quickly identified and rectified.
  • Users get 'real time usage' data which can be used for water conservation plans. For example, how much water is used by garden sprinklers.

How can I access the data provided by the new meters?

Users will have access online to their own detailed usage information.

How will the project benefit the Public Utilities Department and its customers?

  • AMI reduces meter reading costs, and is more rapid and efficient than visual reading.
  • It advances city infrastructure and prepares for future data requirements.
  • Lower costs mean lower bills.

Why is the City of San Diego installing the AMI system at this time?

AMI technology has been proven in many utilities across the country and locally in cities such as Carlsbad and Encinitas. The Initial Implementation Program will help determine if the technology works for the Public Utilities Department and its customers.

How long will this new device work?

  • Life expectancy is 15 years.
  • Periodic inspection and maintenance will be performed.

Who will install the AMI device?

Itron Company is installing AMI meters under City guidance. The company's website is at:

If I am getting AMI technology, will I be notified before the installation takes place?

Yes Notification by mail will be sent to customers who will be getting the new technology.

How is the installation done?

  • Older meters which may not be working at 100 percent capability will be replaced with new meters and the AMI transmitting device.
  • Properly functioning meters will simply be fitted with the AMI transmitting device.
  • There will be no noticeable difference in the appearance of your fitted meter.
  • Installers will clean the area and make sure the new device is working.

How long will the installation process take?

In most cases less than an hour.

Will my water service be disrupted during this process?

  • A 30 minute service shut-off will be necessary only if the water meter needs to be replaced.
  • Installation of the transmitting device alone does not require shut-off.
  • If shut off is needed the installer will alert the meter owner by knocking at the door or leaving notification.

Why do I need a new meter?

It is possible you don't need a new meter. Only those that are old, perhaps malfunctioning and not compatible with the transmitting device will be replaced.

Can I tell if I need a new meter?

No. Only a qualified installer can evaluate if a new meter is required.

Will the entire City eventually get AMI Technology?

Results of the project including water conservation benefits will be evaluated before a decision is made to expand installation.

Will the AMI device's radio signals affect the operation of other electronic devices in my home?

No. The device's radio signal is similar to that of a cordless phone.

Is the AMI technology safe?

Yes As safe as cellphones, laptops, blue tooth devices and similar equipment.

An in-depth article about the safety of this technology: Radio Frequency FAQs

If I notice a problem after installation, whom should I contact?

If you notice a problem after installation, please e-mail to report it.

Will I be charged for this new service?

  • No. There is no additional cost for the new meter reading device.
  • No additional costs for a new water meter if one is deemed necessary by the installer.

How much will the project cost Public Utilities?

Approximately $6 million.

Will the new device affect my bill?

Only if a new meter is installed and the older meter was malfunctioning and not properly registering water consumption.

Will I be able to read my water meter after the AMI device is installed?

Yes. Visual meter reading will still be available as a back-up for homeowner use.