Starting in March, the 4,000 Pacific Power customers in Cottage Grove will be getting one of their last home visits from their power provider.
This is because the company is in the process of replacing electric meters that identify how much power a home or business is using with smart meters that allow residents and the company to access that information online. The goal is to make the process more efficient for customers so they can see an hour-by-hour breakdown of how much energy they are using and Pacific Power will no longer have to send meter readers door-to-door. Through online monitoring, Pacific Power will now also be able to see when there are power outages and can more quickly send crews.
By the end of April, Pacific Power aims to have all of the local updates completed. According to Pacific Power regional manager Sam Carter, residents should have already received information in the mail. Customers will also be receiving a phone call prior to the installation and a knock on the door from the people doing the installation when it occurs. The process will cut power in the home for up to five minutes.
“This is really going to help our customers be able to more closely understand how they are using energy and can thereby be more efficient in reducing their usage and cost,” Carter said in a presentation at Monday’s City Council meeting.
While the technology has been around, Pacific Power is joining an estimated 70 million smart readers that are already in place across the country. Throughout 2018 and 2019, Pacific Power will be completing updates across Oregon and northern California.
In his presentation, Carter also noted that the information is protected and personal information is not shared with the company or others. But for individuals who would rather have the electric meters, they can pay an opt out fee and an additional monthly fee to keep what they currently are using. About one percent of users opt-out.
Cottage Grove City Manager Richard Meyer noted that this is a kind of “warmup presentation” for smart meters as public works is starting to look into the same sort of change with water meters in the near future.