Company Begins Pay-as-You-Go Program to Replace Water Meters

Having announced updates to its hardware and software in June, Texas company Olea Edge Analytics has followed up with a program to install 100 units on municipal water meters at no up-front cost.

Closeup of a water droplet splashing.
<a href="" target="_blank">Shutterstock/Peter Bocklandt</a>
In May, a company in Austin, Texas, announced new versions of its technology to help cities recover lost revenue by detecting faulty water meters. It has now launched a new program to cover the cost of installation until money starts coming in.

According to a news release on the company’s website, Olea Edge Analytics debuted on June 25 the Meter Health Analytics (MHA) Revenue Recovery Program, offering to install its hardware units on 100 city water meters at no up-front cost. The units contain visual, rotational and vibrational sensors that connect to Olea’s back-end software, which in turn uses AI and machine learning algorithms — the “edge computing” component — to identify how a meter is inaccurate, and how it might be fixed.

The monetary discount of the new program depends on a 30-day window for MHA units to discover under-billing issues. Whatever issues the units identify in that time, if the city or water utility commits to repairing them within 30 days of identification, that customer won’t have to start paying Olea back for the units until “after the repairs are made and money starts flowing back into the budget,” according to the news release.

The MHA program guarantees that installing 100 units will identify at least $200,000 of annualized revenue recovery, or else the company will remove them with no further obligation. The news release said the program has a pay-as-you-go structure which stipulates that, for every dollar of unbilled revenue recovered beyond the cost of Olea’s units in the first year, the customer agrees to subscribe to additional units to find more revenue.

“We want to offer a low cost-of-entry program for cities to see fast revenue recovery,” said the company’s CEO, Dave Mackie, in a statement. “The faster we get going, the faster the net revenue will accrue to the benefit of the utility. We strongly believe we will deliver an exceptional first-year benefit and more than 200% return every additional year.”

When Mackie spoke with Government Technology in May, he said his company is focused on commercial as opposed to private water meters, because those account for 40-80 percent of a city’s total water revenue. He said some meters are based on technology that’s more than 70 years old, and while some meters can last decades, others don’t work as soon as they’re put in the ground, and there’s no reliable way to predict when they’ll go bad.

Mackie said in May that the American Water Works Association estimates that 10 percent of meters go bad every year, and his company’s news release said up to 40% of all high-volume commercial water meters are underbilling and need repair. The company is pitching the program as a way for local governments to generate revenue in the face of impending budget cuts due to shutdowns from COVID-19, without pinching residents who may already be struggling.

In May, the company had enlisted four local government customers: the cities of Austin and Irving in Texas, the city of Atlanta and Gwinnett County, Ga.

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