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[June 13, 2010]
APS changing meters
Jun 13, 2010 (The Sun - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The latest in technology is coming to an electric meter near you.
In a four-month project that got under way last week, Arizona Public Service technicians are going from neighborhood to neighborhood to update the electric meters of households in Yuma and the surrounding area.
Some 69,000 households in the Yuma area will be getting the new "smart meters," said Andrea Bereznak, spokeswoman for APS in Yuma. She explained that the new meters are upgraded with automated technology that measures electrical use and communicates that information with the utility company's main computer system.
"The new automated meters are being installed as part of our effort to use the latest technology to serve our customers," she said.
"We want to let people know what's happening when they see several APS trucks and technicians in a neighborhood. It's just upgraded meters. The objective at the end of the day is to provide better service and more options in the future." Bereznak said the utility company's technicians will be driving trucks that are clearly marked with the APS logo. They will be wearing clothing and hats that say APS, and they will be carrying identification as APS employees.
The new meters offer a number of benefits to APS customers, Bereznak said.
For one thing, a meter reader no longer will be making the rounds each month, a definite benefit for dog owners who in the past have had to make sure their pets were secured during the visits.
That's not to say that APS no longer will need access to the meters. "We'll still need access for inspections and maintenance, but not on a regular basis," she said.
As another benefit, APS will be "greener" as a result of the automated readings that will reduce the need for trucks to be on the streets burning fuel and creating exhaust, Bereznak said.
A big benefit to customers is that the meters will be transmitting power usage at least once a day so customers will be able to track their electrical consumption on a daily basis, she said.
"They'll be able to go online to APS.com today and see how much power they used yesterday," she said.
Yet another benefit is that with the communication capabilities of the new meters, "we'll be able to get quicker outage information," she said, explaining that if a meter suddenly isn't receiving power, it will send out an alert immediately.
So far APS has changed out 400,000 meters in the Phoenix area and Flagstaff, Bereznak said. "Yuma is the next step." She said that all of the city of Yuma, the Foothills and some households in the metropolitan area around the city are slated to receive the new meters between now and September.
Gadsden, Somerton and San Luis, Ariz., aren't scheduled to receive the new meters at this time, she said, "but we expect them to at a future date." The goal of APS is to efficiently change out the meters with a minimal of disruption to the households, Bereznak said.
Customers will receive a door hanger giving them a couple days of advance notice. People don't have to be home at the time, and the technicians will remove the door hanger when they've completed the meter switch so they're not left behind as a signal if the residents are gone for an extended time.
The switch will result in "just a momentary loss of power," Bereznak said. It shouldn't be enough to trip off a household's alarm system, but APS has notified all the alarm companies just in case.
If someone has any concerns or questions, they can call the APS customer service call center at 1-800-253-9405.
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