US utility plans to automate 1.3 million meters

PPL Electric Utilities, based in Pennsylvania, USA, will spend some $160 million between now and the end of 2004 on changing its 1.3 million electric meters so that they are able to read consumption data remotely. A pilot project involving 10,000 properties in two communities is slated to take place over the next two months. Once the utility is sure that the upgraded meters are able to perform according to specification, all the meters in the two communities will be replaced.

PPL has opted for installing a transponder in the meter which will transmit the data through the power lines. New equipment will be installed at the substations to gather the data and transmit it to PPL’s offices via telephone line or the cellular phone network.

The transponders, which will be fitted both to new and existing conventional meters, and the hardware for the substations will be supplied by Distribution Control Systems Inc (DCSI).