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Georgia Power may start 'peak hour' billing
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Georgia Power customers will be able to track their power use online after “smart” meters are installed in the next few years.
“You can go on a computer and look your stuff up,” Joseph “Red” McClure, a regional service supervisor out of Brunswick for the statewide power company, told Hinesville Rotary Club members Tuesday.
Georgia Power serves customers in much of Liberty County. It has finished installation in North Georgia, is now installing the high-tech gadgets in homes and businesses in the Atlanta area, he said, and is scheduled to get to Liberty County in May 1012.
“It is a state-of-the-art electric meter reading and communication system that will allow Georgia Power to maintain and improve the level of service we provide our customers,” McClure said.
Most of the benefits he discussed targeted the utility; fewer meter readers, reduced transportation costs, improved load management and the ability to remotely cut off and start power to a location. The meters communicate by radio to a central location.
But they could also lead to benefits for customers in that they could allow the utility to started pro-rated billing, depending on peak hours of use. For example, electric users would be charged less for power used at night when businesses are not burning most of the available load.
The new meters will also eliminate estimated billing for households and businesses that have inaccessible meters. McClure said that policy is necessary, but often angers customers because their bills don’t jive with their meters.
He said customers will not pay separately for the meters.
McClure said in some cases customers are seeing initial increases in their bills because the new meters are digital, reading power use electronically instead of mechanically in old meters. Many of the parts in those older meters have worn, reading electric flow slower than they should.
He said statewide, the company is installing more than 2.2 million meters. Georgia Power’s Regional Manager Robert Stokes of Hinesville, who introduced McClure, said the basic new meters cost $125 each. Ones that can be controlled remotely will cost more, McClure said.
Under questioning, he admitted there will be fewer jobs. In his area, for example, he said there are now about 28 meter readers and that will be cut to about 10 when done, including meter technicians.
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