New Smart Electric Meters

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COLUMBIA - Columbia got a little bit closer to replacing residents old electric meters with new "smart" electric meters through a webinar informational session Thursday afternoon. Members of the Water and Light Advisory Board listened to online presentations on smart meters from different organizations with a key goal.

"We were invited to attend a meeting, this webinar and the other webinars to learn more about some of the functionalities of what this new technology is across the country," said Jay Hasheider, one of the board members who watched the webinar.

The presentations were provided by the American Power Association and included detailed information on smart meters, their functions, and more. 

Hasheider said the new electric meters have a host of functions that current meters lack.

"Principally, They can give you a timely meter readings information, so that somebody doesn't actually have to go out and actually make that meter reading. You could read it form a head and a desk at the power plant or downtown. So that remote accessibility is there," Hasheider said.

There multiple other benefits for the smart meters, including a possible "on-and-off" function for the meters and demand control with devices inside homes to help manage energy usage.

Hasheider said that although the money to pay for the meters could from revenue made from Columbia residents, the webinar showed that the new meters has actually saved money in other cities that have implemented it. If it were to be implemented in Columbia, residents could have the opportunity to save money through many of these functions.

"Utility is a municipal utility," said Hasheider. "It's owned by the customer. It's owned by the citizens, and so any reduction in cost and so forth would be a benefit for the city overall. The customers and the city."

The meters could save the city money by having to do less onsite meter readings, which according to Hasheider is an expensive function currently. 

"The idea of managing energy is becoming a very fiscally responsible thing to do so that if you can use energy in a better way that's either using it less at critical times or leveling your usage over time, that can help reduce the utilities costs," Hasheider said

The information the Water and Light Advisory Board received today will be presented in an official meeting next Wednesday so that any next steps can begin being planned.