Alaska’s largest utilities are looking to deploy smart meters to quickly identify outages and send consumption data back to the utility.According to a release, valley-based Matanuska Electric Association has replaced almost half of its 60, 000 meters with smart meters.
Says MEA spokeswoman, Julie Estey, “The utility can see which meters are on or off – helpful during a power outage - and can be disconnected remotely.”
She added that customers with smart meters can also track daily power use via an online portal.
Matanuska Electric Association’s general manager recently made the shift a budget priority, and all of the meters are expected to be replaced in two years.
Chugach Electric Association, a member-owned utility in Anchorage, rolled out small pilot programme in 2014, and has since replaced two-thirds of its 80, 000 meters for customers with smart meters.
The $14 million project is expected to be complete in October 2017. Similarly to the MEA, the new meters alert the utility to power outages and can be disconnected remotely.
The smart meters have eliminated the need for truck rolls.
Chugach also plans to introduce a “member engagement platform” which will allow customers to monitor their own usage, get outage alerts and pay their bills.
Moreover, city-owned Anchorage power utility, Municipal Light and Power, is reported to be experimenting with smart meters.
Less than 100 meters will partake in a pilot project than will run for six months beginning in early 2017.
Smart meters in rural Alaska
In the more rural parts of Alaska, meters that more closely monitor power use have been in place for over a decade.
Villages in rural Alaska begun installing prepaid metering systems in 2006, responding to high electricity costs and problems with utilities collecting payments.
Local media reports that currently, 43 communities have installed the systems, which aloe customers to monitor power use in real-time.
Smart cards using chip technology can communicate directly with utility offices and can be accessed remotely.
“They are, however, smart meters, and they have tremendous functionality. It’s similar to what [the Anchorage-area utilities] are using, and probably even a little more so,” said Clarissa Quinlan, who owns Utility Metering Systems, a small company that works on the installations.
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