PPL Electric Utilities plans to begin replacing 1.4 million smart meters in September in Schuylkill and Carbon counties.
This phase of the initiative forms part of a $470 million project that began in 2016 to replace aging water meter infrastructure in the area.
PPL and other electric utilities are required to install the smart meters by 2023 under Act 129.
The Public Utilities Commission approved the project in 2015, at which point customers began paying additional charges to cover roll out costs. The average residential customer will pay about $1.77 per month over the time the meters are in service. Since it is a pass-through fee, PPL makes no profit on the fees.
The smart meters will enable increased grid reliability by incorporating new energy saving technologies into the system. The meters will also ensure PPLs compliance with state-mandated regulations.
The metering system will give customers the chance to manage their energy usage more efficiently and become more power-wise.
Furthermore, the smart meters will decrease theft and tampering, decrease response time during outages and improve customer service.
Joe Nixon, PPL strategic communications manager says installation of meter infrastructure will begin in May this year.
The electronic digital meters are equipped with wireless communication technology and will communicate data to PPL through a radio signal system for sending secure encrypted data to the routers.
“The current generation of meters are nearing the end of their lifespan. I think we started back in 2002 or 2004 in our service territory putting the last generation meters in, so they could be 15 years old,” Nixon said.
According to Nixon: “ there is a series of letters. One letter goes out about 45 days in advance, and then another letter about 21 days in advance, and then another contact just before the meter is installed. And the day of the installation, the contractor will give a knock on the door to tell the homeowner.”
Grid One Solutions, Riggs Distler and Wellington Energy will perform the meter replacement work. In addition, TESCO is performing audits of meter installations.
Photos of vehicles used by these companies are on the PPL website to help customers identify their employees.