Volunteers sought for Edmond Electric smart meter pilot program
EDMOND — Edmond Electric officials are looking for 300 volunteers to participate in a pilot program as part of an investigation to determine whether smart meters should be installed throughout the city.
Council members last week approved spending $45,000 on the pilot program, so now they need home and commercial owners to help with the project.
Smart meters are digital utility meters with two-way radio communication.
The advance metering infrastructure using smart meters would allow two-way communication where people can obtain real-time information about utility usage, said Glen Fisher, Edmond Electric director.
New electricity usage information would be available every 15 minutes.
The pilot program, which will use several smart meter vendors, is designed to gauge public interest, determine metering capabilities and review customer benefits, Fisher said.
“There are three target areas with 50 to 100 participants selected within each target area,” Fisher said.
One of the target areas has boundaries of Covell Road on the south, River Shade Drive on the north, Santa Fe Avenue on the west and Broadway on the east.
Another target area is within Danforth Road on the south, Covell Road on the north, Broadway on the west and Sooner Road on the east.
The final target area has boundaries of 15th Street on the south, Edmond Road on the north, east of Broadway on the west and Coltrane Road on the east.
“We will keep in contact with the people and determine if it was helpful and if there was a savings,” Fisher said.
“We will keep in touch with the customers and see if it was a benefit.”
The pilot program could last eight to 12 months. Installation of the smart meters is expected to be in December.
“Staff would work with these customers to educate them about the programs and options available to them,” Fisher said.
The pilot program
Participants will be able to go online to monitor the amount of electricity they are using at a certain time, such as while the washer is running or when a certain appliance is turned off.
No changes will be seen in customers billing or the cost of electrical power during the pilot program, Fisher said.
Edmond does not have a smart hours program, which is an offer where different rates are charged at certain times of the day. Fisher anticipates the information obtained in the pilot program will help evaluate whether there should be a smart hours program in Edmond.
There also are advantages for Edmond Electric employees with smart meters.
“We will be able to know about outages before the customer can pick up the phone and call,” Fisher said.
“We also will be able to do remote connects and disconnects. That is good with the student population. It saves labor and sending a vehicle.”
Electrical workers won't have to go out and physically read the meters every month.
Customers who want to volunteer for the pilot program can go to www.edmond ok.com to sign up starting Sept. 26.
Fisher will seek three vendors to conduct the Edmond pilot program. He estimated each vendor will cost $15,000, which is representative of costs incurred by other Oklahoma municipalities conducting pilot programs.
A new smart meter system would be used by the city's 35,000 electric customers and 32,000 homes with water service.
Consultants in 2011 told city officials in a feasibility study that a total system, with all the possible extras, could cost $36 million over 15 years.
Fisher said he thinks $10.5 million is more realistic. All the extras aren't necessary, and prices have gone down over the last five years.
Funds for the new meters would come from money in reserves and revenue from bonds.
“The savings cost would cover the debit services,” Fisher said. “We will be updating the numbers.”
Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. has 773,000 smart meters operating in Oklahoma City. The number of smart meters being used across Oklahoma was recorded at 1.6 million in 2014.
“We are one of the last sizable cities to investigate using the meters,” Mayor Charles Lamb said.
Some are opposed
Not everyone is in favor of the smart meter technology with a wireless system.
Resident Don Powers has been writing letters to the city since 2013 warning of health dangers he thinks are associated with the technology.
In his latest letter dated Aug. 1, he urged the council to keep wireless smart meters out of Edmond.
Fisher told council members during an Aug. 8 workshop the system consists of “multiplayer encrypted two-way radio communication between electric and water meters and utility systems.
“All information the meters transmit is encrypted,” Fisher said. “It uses the Advance Encryption Standard 256 bits encryption. That is what the Department of Defense, NSA, everyone else in the federal level uses. It is a worldwide standard.”