Starting September 6, Lowell Light & Power will be installing Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) meters at the homes and businesses of all its customers. AMI meters aren’t new in fact they’ve been around since the 1980s. There are approximately 58 million of them installed in the US and over 50% of Michigan residents have electricity monitored through this kind of meter. These meters measure of how much electricity is being used and will remain precise over time.
Additionally, LL&P has been planning the release of these meters for close to a year. Information was included with bills in early spring and early summer. Steve Donkersloot, General Manager of Lowell Light & Power, also made a presentation the beginning of August at a City Council meeting.
Lowell’s First Look had the opportunity to photograph and video Ryan Teachworth and Rich Mutschler during an installation as part of a test run for members of Lowell Light & Power’s board as well as those on City Council. While one of multiple new meters have been installed at city buildings, this hands on training made sure the process will go smoothly and showed how quickly the new AMI meter can be put in place. The system can also be tested with more meters reporting data prior to general installation.
We witnessed the 14th installation of the day. And we had to pay close attention or we would have missed it. The old meter is pulled out revealing something similar to an outlet where the new meter is then plugged in. The entire process, including snapping a photo of the old meter and new meter number for verification purposes, was finished in less than five minutes. Power was out for just a few seconds. The new meters start collecting information immediately.
Through the SUS Customer Portal, residents and businesses will be able to various things including track usage, pay a bill, and receive an e-bill. The portal can be downloaded to a laptop or tablet or accessed on a smartphone via an app. Using the portal is not required if you have a new meter. Information regarding this will be released in the weeks following complete installation. Another automatic feature of the new meter loses complete power due to downed wires during a storm or a critter chewing through a wire there is no need to call in an outage. LL&P will be alerted via their software. However, if you lose power through a blown fuse in your house you’ll still have to take a trip to your home’s breaker box.
While safety and privacy concerns have been raised by some people, scientific evidence doesn’t support these claims. A Lowell Light & Power study of the meters found no health concerns associated with their use but expects the new meters to be beneficial to both the utility and customers. The PowerPoint presentation used during the council meeting can be found on the LL&P website. Lowell Light & Power anticipates all new meters will be installed by Friday, September 23. An information and FAQ sheet has been mailed to customers and can also be seen at the LL&P webpage.
We also put together a video which can be seen on YouTube.