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AEP Texas to bring Smart Meters to the Crossroads

By ALLISON MILES
March 21, 2011 at 5:04 p.m.
Updated March 20, 2011 at 10:21 p.m.


MORE INFO

Find out more on smart meters and the gridSMART initiative; visit aeptexas.com/gridsmart.

Electric meters in Victoria are about to become smarter as AEP Texas installs digital Smart Meters.

Installations begin the first full week of April and will last through September, said Omar Lopez, a company spokesman. More than 29,000 meters will go in throughout Victoria.

Smart Meters provide up-to-date usage information, which allows customers with in-home monitors - or those viewing usage online - to make more informed energy choices, according to an AEP news release.

Customers began paying for the updated meters in January 2010, when a $3.15 surcharge was added to their bills, Lopez said. Later, that surcharge will drop to within the $2 range and in about seven years will disappear altogether.

AEP Texas purchased the meters for $350 million.

The company will place large door hangers on customers' front doors about two weeks prior to installation, Lopez said. The hangers will explain, in both English and Spanish, what the meters are and how they work.

During installation, crews take a digital photo of the old meter, remove it and install the new one, he said. Afterward, the crew takes another photo, for accuracy.

It takes about 15 seconds to a minute to install the new meters, Lopez explained, and the customer will lose power briefly throughout the process.

Once the meters are installed, AEP Texas can read meters remotely, according to the company news release. The only time company representatives will enter customers' property is for periodic tests and maintenance. Connections and disconnections also take place remotely.

Smart meters also include other features, such as outage signals, which allow AEP Texas to quickly recognize outages, Internet consumption data, which allows people to view their usage online to conserve energy, and more.

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