City Utilities Upgrading Meter Systems

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Richard Lundh and his wife Marty have been living in their Springfield home. And just recently, they received a letter from City Utilities. 

“Will knock on your door before upgrading your gas meter,” some of the letter reads.  

City Utilities is upgrading all of its customers electric, gas and water meters, taking out its old manual meter – where they actually send a meter reader once a month to your house –  and replacing them with automated ones.

CU has been changing out the old manual meters for new automated ones for about two years and will continue to do so for the next five, going from neighborhood to neighborhood. The biggest change is that you can track your usage online anytime. 

If your home hasn’t been updated yet, you will receive your letter about a month or so before CU comes knocking on your door, and if you’re not home, they’ll still switch out the meters. 

“We’ll leave a door hanger to let them know we had been there,” said Gary Gibson, associate general manager of customer operations at CU. 

CU will then have access to your usage via radio frequency. And customers can track their electric, gas and water usage online through their CU accounts, broken down by each commodity, seeing how much you’re spending not just every month, but every day and every hour. 

Gibson says the new system will allow for faster restoration time in case of a power outage. 

“The new meters, when they lose power, they send a message to the utilities that ‘hey, I’m out of power,” he said.  

For Lundh, this technology isn’t new.  He has a house in Colorado with the automated system and that’s how he keeps up with it. 

“And if the numbers are changing, something is wrong. Either there’s a leak in the water system, or there’s a light turned on,” he said.   

And now he’ll use it to track the usage at his permanent home too.

This idea also isn’t new to the rest of the country, Gibson says. 

“Probably about 60 to 70 percent of the United States have now been switched to automated,” he said. 

So far, CU has upgraded 49,000 electric meters out of 120,000. 

12,000 gas meters and  4,000 water meters have been updated. 

The switch for all three will all be completed by 2022. The entire project is costing CU $50 million, and Gibson says the estimated savings are of about $4.5 to $5 million a year. 

CU says this switch does not come with a rate increase for customers and people have the ability to opt out. So far, only about 0.3 percent of customers have opted out he said. 

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