Spokane Journal of Business

Itron awarded big contract with Italian gas distributor

Nonresidential network of 30,000 meters seen as first step

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Itron Inc., of Liberty Lake, has won a "smart metering" contract with Italgas, Italy's leading gas supplier, to deliver and install electronic gas-volume converters and two-way communication devices across much of Italy on an estimated 30,000 commercial and industrial gas meters.

Itron says it also will provide associated managed services, including meter reading and maintenance, in cooperation with Capgemini, a Paris-based technology giant that will manage the reading and sending of data to Italgas.

Italgas, based in the Turin area of Italy, is Italy's leading gas distributor, Itron says. It serves more than 1,400 contracted municipalities, manages a distribution network of more than 31,000 miles in length, and has 5.8 million active meters.

"The technology will help Italgas improve its service and lay the foundation for future smart metering initiatives," says Marc Heimbigner, an Itron spokesman.

Sharelynn Moore, director of marketing and communications for Itron, says utilities often automate their commercial and industrial meters as a first step in automating their entire systems.

"The potential is that all their residential meters would be automated," Moore says. She adds that Itron would hope to be considered for that larger piece of business.

Itron isn't releasing the value of the contract that covers the commercial and industrial meters, Moore says.

Moore says gas typically is transmitted at high pressure in long-distance distribution lines, and gas-volume converters equalize pressures at points where gas is distributed in more local lines so meters know what they're reading. She says Itron's meters provide usage readings so utilities can send signals through their two-way systems in near real time to offer different pricing as usage ebbs and flows. The Italgas system also will accommodate other service enhancements, she says.

Marcel Regnier, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Itron International, which is based in Brussels, says, "We are proud to be part of yet another step forward in rolling out smart metering across Europe. In addition to helping Italgas meet statutory requirements, this solution will also improve their customer service."

Itron says installation and maintenance of the "large deployment" will be managed by its field services network.

Moore says that Itron manufactures gas-metering equipment at Naples, in Italy, makes water-metering equipment in the Italian city of Asti, and has a sales office in Milan.

Since 2009, Italgas has been controlled by Snam Rete Gas S.p.A., the industry leader in Europe based on the value of its regulated assets, Itron says. Its shares are listed on the Italian Stock Exchange.

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