Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Chelan PUD nears completion of advanced meter installation

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WENATCHEE - Chelan County Public Utility District (PUD) is in the final stages of replacing traditional electric meters with advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) throughout the county. As of Monday, April 1, only 551 out of 51,259 meters remain to be replaced, according to a report presented to PUD commissioners.

The $15 million project, which began about a year ago, aims to modernize the county's electrical grid and provide numerous customer benefits. These benefits include faster outage notification, improved billing accuracy, and the potential for future technology integration, such as customer self-service tools and outage notifications via text, email, or phone calls.

“AMI is foundational to a lot of improvements, especially with reliability and outage response,” said John Stoll, managing director of customer utilities. “It’s like switching from a landline to a smart phone. We’re excited to offer the benefit of AMI to our customers.”

The new advanced meters use encrypted, wireless communication to send energy use information directly to Chelan PUD. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, this technology is becoming increasingly common, with about 73% of residential electric meters in the nation now being advanced meters.

While most customers have embraced the change, about 256 have opted out of the advanced meter installation. Starting June 1, these customers will be charged a $25 monthly fee to cover the cost of manual meter readings.

Chelan PUD hosted several virtual meetings and in-person sessions in late February and early March to address customer concerns and questions. The utility plans to continue its outreach efforts later this spring to ensure customers are well-informed about the AMI system and its implementation.

“Much of the information these customers have are from the internet, Google, or an experience from another utility that’s doing different things with AMI,” said Andy Wendell, director of customer service and stakeholder outreach. “It was great for us to communicate how we plan to use system, what we plan to achieve from it, and how it specifically functions.”

For more information about the advanced meter installation project, customers can visit chelanpud.org/advancedmeters.

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