Digging Deeper: Smart Meter Technology

Effort by Georgia Power could eliminate meter reading.

Since 2005 the utility has been working its way across the state upgrading its customers power meters with smart meters.

That technology is finally arriving here in the Albany area.

It will remotely send your utility usage to the office eliminating the need to read your meter, giving you a more accurate bill.

The days of meter readers, roaming though your yard are coming to an end. Georgia Power customers are getting fliers in the mail alerting them, Smart Meters are on the way.

"In a couple of months they'll be going around to install new meters," said Kazeem Olaniyan, a Lee County resident.

Right now readers check the meters within a three day window, causing bills to fluctuate. Smart meters use a radio signal to transmit just the meter number and its output to Georgia Power. Customers in Lee County have already received information and like the idea.

"I think it's cool being able to transmit information wirelessly. I think it's going to be more accurate," said Olaniyan.

In addition to the accuracy, Georgia Power would also be warned if the power goes out in the event of a storm, even before you pick up the phone.

"If those meters alert us that its out we'll have a pretty good idea that it's the transformer or in the case if the whole street or block or something is out, we'll be able to have a better idea of how widespread the outage is," said Jay Smith, Georgia Power Area Manager.

While it will be a savings for the company with less vehicles on the road, it could also save customers more in the long run through time of use rates or off peak rates.

"They could benefit from some off peak rates, it may be like the cell phone where you have nights and weekends and that kind of thing, but we'll have more rate options available with the meter," said Smith.

It could ultimately give Georgia Power a better idea when they need to turn on more expensive units to produce power instead of just anticipating high peak volumes and using more expensive equipment when they don't need to.

Georgia Power will use contractors to install the new meters. Those installations will start in May and run through August. Customers will get a notice in the mail and a phone call before the new meter is installed.

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