In 2003, we installed new electric meters across the county. These meters are read remotely without sending a meter reader to your home. In the past 15 utility meter readers would walk door-to-door reading meters. Combined, they read an average of 5,000 to 8,000 meters a day.
With remote meter reading, one drive-by van can capture 12,000 meter readings in an eight-hour period.
The cost of remote reading systems for water meters is too high, so a meter reader will continue to read water meters every other month.
Benefits and savings
We have been able to eliminate nearly 9,000 special visits each year for such things as rechecking meter readings, checking for meter tampering, and disconnections of service for lack of payment or because people are moving.
The up-front installation cost was about $12.9 million, but we'll save about $22.5 million over 10 years, for a net savings after the costs of implementing the system of nearly $10 million. The system actually paid for itself in four years.
How does it work?
There are several ways to remotely read an electric meter. We have a system that uses a small radio transmitter in your meter. We send a signal to the transmitter that triggers a meter reading. That reading is then sent via the transmitter to a receiver in a van that's driving through your neighborhood. We'll eventually eliminate this "drive-by" meter reading system by installing receivers on existing power poles or other towers. This more sophisticated system will provide more features, such as automatic outage notification.