Highland News Leader

City to purchase ‘smart’ electric meters

The old electric meter reader might soon be a thing of the past in Highland. Last week, the City Council agreed to buy 575 electric “smart meters.”

With the new meters, the city will able to be read a homeowner’s electric meter from city hall and even from home, if they are an authorized user, Highland Director of Light and Power Dan Cook said.

The council unanimously approved two bids, totaling $203,000, to purchase the smart meters and the related infrastructure at its Nov. 2 meeting.

Smart meters are electronic devices the city can use to measure electrical and water use in a home or business. The meters are able to transmit that information back to the utility without having a human physically read the meter.

Cook said the city has been evaluating and testing smart metering systems for the past two years.

“The smart meters will have remote underground functionality and will allow the city to use the ‘Smart Grid’ technology,” he said.

Smart meters have been used for a number of years, especially in parts of Europe. In recent years, they have been installed in some areas of the United States as well.

With the latest purchase, the city will have about 800 smart meters, Cook said.

“I would eventually like to see all 6,600 homes in the city limits get the meters,” he said. “So we are looking at building out the program in the next five years or so.”

In 2013, U.S. electric utilities had 51,924,502 smart metering infrastructure installations, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Eighty-nine percent were residential customer installations.

According to the website uswitch.com, there are two main benefits to switching to smart meters, including:

▪ Smart meters will mean the end of estimated bills, and the end of overpaying (or underpaying) for your energy

▪ Customers get better oversight and management of their energy use with a real-time data display in their home.

In other action, the council agreed to buy 30 new LED lights for Dennis Rinderer Park. The council awarded the $96,969 LED project to Butler Supply, the low bidder. Dennis Rinderer Park is located at the end of the city’s newest road, Veterans Honor Parkway.

“LED lighting is the way of the future, providing cost efficient operation and lower maintenance costs than traditional lighting,” Cook said.

The lights will be installed along the park’s walking trail, and in the parking lot by the city’s electric department.

The project will be funded by the IMEA Electric Efficiency Program. IMEA will contribute approximately 57 percent or $55,400 of the project’s cost.

The balance (approximately $41,569) will possibly require a transfer from the city reserves to cover part or all of the cost that is not covered, Cook said.