Tuesday, April 23, 2024

SWEPCO to install Smart Meters in north and central Louisiana

by BIZ Magazine

Southwestern Electric Power Co., an American Electric Power (Nasdaq: AEP) company, soon will begin installing advanced digital meters, more commonly known as smart meters, in Louisiana.

Smart meters empower customers to have more control over their energy use, as well as provide improved customer service. They use secure wireless technology to provide timely and accurate meter reading data, which customers can use to better understand and manage energy usage at a home or business. In addition, smart meters also allow for real-time outage notifications to SWEPCO for more seamless power restoration.

Installations to approximately 234,000 Louisiana customers will begin in the Shreveport-Bossier City area in October before moving south to Hornbeck and other parts of SWEPCO’s Louisiana service territory. Deployment of smart meters will continue across the state through 2025.

“Smart meters are part of SWEPCO’s ongoing commitment to help meet the evolving expectations and needs of our customers,” said Paul Pratt, director of Customer Services & Marketing. “Smart meters give our customers more control over their daily energy usage, can help create smart energy habits, aid in power restoration and they offer additional benefits of convenience.”

On Sept. 20, the Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC) approved SWEPCO’s request to complete its Advanced Metering System deployment plan, which builds on a successful pilot program that began in late 2021 for 10,000 Bossier City customers and 2,000 Natchitoches area customers.

In addition to a plan for deploying advanced digital electric meters, the LPSC also approved an AMS surcharge for customers that will take effect beginning on September 28, 2023. The surcharge is $3.24 per month for residential customers for the first four years and $2.75 for the next four years. The monthly surcharge for other rate classes, such as commercial or industrial, is $6.40 and expires after four years.

How Smart Meters Work

The smart meters are replacing SWEPCO’s existing, outdated meter-reading technology. Smart meters use secure, two-way wireless communication to measure and record electricity usage and send the information from a customers’ meter to SWEPCO, similar to how a cell phone, laptop or TV remote works. The data gathered informs customers what time of day they are using the most energy and helps personalize energy saving tips, for example, modifying the settings on an air-conditioner or heater.

Smart Meter Benefits

Smart meters will enhance the customer experience by providing more insight into individual customer usage and how that usage impacts their bill. With the advanced technology, customers can take advantage of the following benefits:

  • Monitor usage with 24/7 access
  • Once the smart meter is installed, customers can view their energy use, in both dollars and in kilowatt-hours (kWh) before their bill is available.
  • Customers can access the data with the SWEPCO Mobile App or through their account on SWEPCO.com.
  • Create good energy-saving habits
  • Customers can receive personalized tips on easy ways to save energy as they can see their usage by the hour, day, month or year.
  • Eliminate manual meter readings
  • A smart meter sends the customer’s energy usage details directly to SWEPCO. If a customer is moving and needs to start or stop service, it can be done remotely, thanks to the wireless technology.
  • Quicker response to outages

Smart meters have two-way communication with SWEPCO’s internal systems, alerting the company to outages. This could speed response and restoration times.

Smart Meter Installation Process

SWEPCO will send direct mail, postcards, and emails informing customers in advance of their installations with the expected installation timeline. The company also calls customers and sends them an email (if a customer’s email address is on file) before installations begin in their neighborhood.

Safety for our crews and customers is of the upmost importance. Please be aware that crews installing smart meters will be in a SWEPCO or a contractor QUES uniform, in marked vehicles, with proper identification.

There will be a short interruption to a customers’ electric service during the installation and customers may need to reset their digital devices. Customers do not need to be home during the installation. Once the installation is complete, a notice will be on the customer’s door.

Smart Meter Opt-Out

Residential homeowners in Louisiana can decline a smart meter for a one-time cost and a recurring monthly fee. The fee goes towards the costs associated with sending a SWEPCO employee to read the meter. Non-residential customers may not decline a smart meter.

For more information on smart meters, visit SWEPCO.com/smartmeters.

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