After installing around 4,700 new “smart meters” from Glen Cove to Port Hadlock, the Jefferson County Public Utility District is scheduled to continue setting up the meters across east …
After installing around 4,700 new “smart meters” from Glen Cove to Port Hadlock, the Jefferson County Public Utility District is set to continue installing the meters across east Jefferson County.
Meter replacement efforts began in September 2022, and the utility authority’s goal is to replace all of its 21,000 electric meters throughout the county by the end of 2023.
The smart meters utilize Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) to allow for two-way communication between customers and the PUD, which also makes it easier for the utility district to more accurately track power outages, officials said. The new technology is replacing 50-plus-year-old mechanical meters and previously used digital meters.
“Our older meters, even the analog ones, send their read data out over a radio signal,” said Kevin Streett, general manager of the PUD. “Currently, we put a lot of miles on trucks to have meter readers driving all over the county collecting those signals.
“With AMI, the read goes out over radio signal and back to our main office. No driving necessary,” Streett added.
The advanced metering infrastructure reduces utility district labor and operating costs while adding improved outage detection and alerts, the ability for remote disconnect and reconnect, a pre-payment option, and improved incorporation of electric vehicle charging and renewables like solar or wind, according to PUD staff.
The decision to switch from neighborhood-by-neighborhood installation to district-wide installation coincided with the end of storm season.
“Now that outages are slowing down, we are having the line crew pitch in along with the meter team to help make the push to finish the project this year,” Streett said. “By going countywide, they can pop in meters wherever they happen to be working on a given day or week.”
Because a brief power outage is needed to replace the meter, the general manager noted that PUD meter teams or line crew members will alert customers with a knock on the door prior to beginning work. After the visit, staff will leave a color-coded door hanger indicating either successful replacement, repairs needed, obstructions to the meter, or potential electric hazards, according to PUD staff.
The utility district requests all customers make sure that access to the meter on their property is possible by removing any clutter or barriers that might be in the way.
“The meter itself is owned by the PUD. We can’t change it out if we can’t safely get to it,” Streett explained.
According to the PUD’s electric service regulations, preventing PUD staff from accessing meters can result in loss of service.
As part of the cost of the meter replacement project, the utility is covering limited repairs for customer-owned meter bases. The goal of the covered repairs is to guarantee employee and customer safety.
Funding for the meter replacement project comes from a loan provided by the USDA Rural Utilities Service.
Customers who wish to opt-out of the meter replacement project may request a non-transmitting meter. The application for an opt-out meter is available on the utility authority’s website.
Opt-out meters require an additional monthly fee currently set at $5 per month to help the utility recover some of the costs to perform a manual walk-up read.
To learn more about the ongoing meter replacement project, visit jeffpud.org/meterprogram.
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