Technology lowers utility bills - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Technology lowers utility bills

October 2, 2002

Albany - New technology could lower your utility bill. Albany's Water, Gas, and Light commission may start using automated meter readers. Workers simply drive by your home and a computer inside their truck instantly reads your meter.

Aggressive dogs, miles of walking, the rain, the cold, and the heat are all obstacles a Water, Gas, and Light meter reader faces every day. "We walk nearly 10 miles a day," said meter reader Dexter Greene. "We go to dozens of houses, dodging mean dogs, snakes, and cluttered yards."

Greene says when they can't read your meter for whatever reason, you're the one who pays the price. "We have to call and set up a time to go back to the house. If we can't get in touch with the customer, we have to estimate the utility usage for that month."

A new automated computer may make a day's work easier for meter readers. The WG&L commission is considering installing the system, at a cost of $8,000,000. The computers are installed in the WG&L trucks. Within seconds, they can read the meters of dozen of homes.

"The system would pay for itself in about 10 years," said Lori Farkas, WG&L. "Right now, we pay more than $.50 a month for maintenance on each meter. With this system, it would only cost $.16."

Commission members are enthusiastic about the system's convenience and the errors it would alleviate. "You always have human errors. We could review the meter reading quickly, if a customer has a complaint," said Farkas.

Commissioners are deciding how to finance the project. The system also has a tamper detector that alerts Water, Gas, and Light of improper meter usage.

Greene is just exited about avoiding dogs, the weather, and miles of walking each day.

Posted at 4:30 PM by kathryn.murchison@walb.com