Application Corner: Flowmeter billing errors, part 4

Sept. 21, 2020
This analysis allowed the parties to have confidence that the steam flowmeters could be used for billing calculations.

A previous Application Corner column described a legal case where a steam producer alleged that its boiler steam flowmeters were not accurate because they had not been inspected in 50 years and not been calibrated in seven years.

Despite restrictions on the scope of information that we could legitimately request from the steam producer, carefully crafted document requests and site visits provided sufficient information to be able to determine the type of water treatment system that was installed from which the flow measurement data could be evaluated for reasonableness.

Subsequently, the ratio of the steam flow to the feedwater flow for each boiler was calculated and was found to be both reasonable and consistent. The ratios for all but one boiler clustered within approximately 1% to 2% of each other, which was remarkable considering that the flowmeters were 50 years old, had never been inspected and had not been calibrated in seven years. My recollection is that the steam to feedwater ratio for the remaining boiler fell 2% or 3% outside the cluster.

This analysis allowed the parties to have confidence that the steam flowmeters could be used for billing calculations. The legal case settled a few days after my deposition, during which, I presented the findings. It is my understanding that an eight-figure settlement was reached using calculations that were based on the boiler steam flowmeter measurements instead of the hundreds of calculations based upon less reliable data obtained from operating equipment. 

David W. Spitzer is a principal at Spitzer and Boyes, LLC, which offers engineering, focused market research, writing/editing white papers, strategic marketing consulting, distribution consulting, seminars and expert witness services for manufacturing and automation companies. Spitzer has written more than 400 technical articles and 10 books about flow measurement, instrumentation and process control. He can be reached at 845-623-1830 or via

About the Author

David W. Spitzer

David W Spitzer’s new book Global Warming (aka Climate Change): An Understandable Data-Driven Explanation and Pathway to Mitigation ( adds to his over 500 technical articles and 10 books on flow measurement, instrumentation, process control and variable speed drives. David offers consulting services and keynote speeches, writes/edits white papers, presents seminars, and provides expert witness services at Spitzer and Boyes LLC ( or +1.845.623.1830).

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