Friday, September 25, 2015

Smart meters alert MLGW to operational problems, preventing large back-bills

Aging analog meters can malfunction for many reasons. Even something as simple as the sun baking off the hands on the dial, if undiscovered, could result in a back-bill.

 MLGW’s system includes more than one million meters of various sizes and ages. While MLGW tracks meter age as part of its ongoing meter replacement program, when a meter stops functioning it’s not often detected immediately.

Here’s how a stopped meter resulted in big electric charges for one customer last year —and how smart meters would have prevented the situation.

A meter reader obtained the monthly electric meter reading at the customer's home and entered it in the system. The reading was the same as the previous month’s which would seem to indicate that no electricity had been consumed. The same electric meter reading was obtained again the following month, which triggered a manual process to determine whether the analog meter had stopped working. During this time, the customer’s meter indicated zero usage—which means there were no charges for the electricity being used at the home. When the malfunctioning meter was replaced, MLGW charged the customer for previously unbilled electricity. The customer went from no charge for a false zero consumption reading to a nearly $400 bill for actual consumption which her broken meter failed to record.

With smart meters, MLGW would know almost immediately if a meter has stopped working. MLGW would be able to replace the meter and charge the customer for actual usage during each month, so the practice of back-billing would be unnecessary. Smart meters will enhance MLGW’s operations and improve customer service—and that’s smart for everyone.

1 comment:

ClaudiB said...

Had a malfunctioning water meter a couple of years ago and alerted MLGW that our water usage could not be zero. This prevented a huge back bill. Smart meters + alert customers will prevent problems. ;-)

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