DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) Dothan Utilities is replacing all of its 32,000 residential and commercial electric and water meters to accommodate a new automated metering system.
“This is just us moving into the digital age to get the information about what’s going on in the system to manage it as efficiently as possible,” says Larry Smith, the electrical planner at Dothan Utilities.
Changing each residential electrical meters will take 2-3 minutes.
“All they'll have to do is open the meter can, remove the old meter, document some information and put the new meter back in,” says Smith.
Changing out water meters is more tedious. Your service must be turned off to replace the meter.
“Even with the water outage, we're doing everything we can to make sure they're as short as possible,” says Smith.
The technology will allow the company to be more proactive in addressing problems and planning for the future.
“It gives us more information and whenever you have more information you can make better decisions,” says Smith.
It will also help reduce utility costs
“We don't generate power, we buy power and anything we can do to reduce those peaks and operate our system more efficiently, that saves the customer some money,” says Smith.
Some customers have expressed concerns about the safety of the system. But Smith says it's safe.
“If you have a cell phone or a router or anything like that in your home it exposes you to much more RF energy ( a form of electromagnetic radiation) than the entirety of this system,” says Smith.
With the new system, you'll see fewer workers at your homes.
But, the good news - no one will lose their job.
“We have some older employees that are going to take advantage of retirement once we get towards the end of this project. But the other personnel will be reassigned to different areas of the city,” says Smith.
When the project is complete instead of getting one meter reading a month, customers will be able to access their usage online by the hour,. And if a meter is out for more than 30 seconds, it sends the company an alert.
The entire project is expected to take two years. The first 8 to 10 months, the company's main focus will be replacing residential meters.