Fayetteville’s Public Works Commission is spending $55 Million over three years to upgrade its electric and water meters. Two companies have been contracted by PWC to change out decades old technology with digital equipment. According to PWC Communications and Community Relations Director Carolyn Justice-Hinson 182,000 residential, commercial and industrial meters are being replaced. The project began a year ago and will take another two years to complete, she said.
Most people won’t notice much of a change in electric meters. It’s the guts of each device that has the new electronics. The new water meters have completely new innards, but users rarely see them because they’re buried just beneath the surface. Pretty soon there will not be any more meter readers. Meter readers used to walk house-to-house. But in the last 15 years, meter readers have driven through neighborhoods using transmitters to record electricity and water usage. With the new technology, utility usage information will be transmitted by remote control to PWC’s main office.
Customers will be able to read their own meters online anytime they like, says Justice-Hinson. In the past, information was collected monthly and bills were sent out. Justice-Hinson says customers now can analyze their utility usage just as they do cell phone time, text and data consumption. During the holidays, residents will be able to keep tabs on their water and power use at times when they normally would use less. It would also allow customers to monitor air conditioning use during the summer. PWC’s web portal will be interactive by 2016, says Justice-Hinson.
The Public Works Commission is using its new Navigate software platform to manage all the data flowing from 73,000 residential meters, plus those of business and industrial customers. Individual utility customers are being notified of the retrofits by the installation contractors as the jobs are completed. PWC rate payers have been paying for the upgrades for a couple of years, and increases in electric and water bills will continue to reflect the expense of updating the meters over the next several years.
The changeover has not resulted in layoffs of meter readers,
PWC says. Officials say a slight workforce reduction has been gained through attrition and personnel transfers.