Thursday, May 13, 2010
HSUD going to digital metering
By SUE WATSON
The Holly Springs Utility Department is in the midst of changing over its metering system and eventually hopes to read electricity, water and gas meters electronically.
Don Hollingsworth, general manager of HSUD, said the Tennessee Valley Authority, which produces electricity for the area, is requiring its distributors to replace old electric meters with a digital meter by year 2012.
The utility has already installed a number of automatic metering devices over the HSUD system which cuts down on manual reading of meters and ultimately the cost of meter reading, Hollingsworth said. About a dozen meters a day are being changed out by utility workers tasked with switching out the first 300 old meters.
The digital meters can be “read” from the utility office and if there is a problem with a customer not realizing how his meter is running up a big bill, the system will assist the customer in understanding electricity use.
Later on down the line, power companies will charge customers time of day rates, where peak use rates will be higher at certain hours of the day.
Hollingsworth said he expects the city to “go totally automatic” in October. The new TS2 meters will send real time data back to the office on all three utilities when the system is built. It is expected to cost HSUD about $1.2 million to complete the automatic metering system, he said.
He said some, but not as many, meter readers will still be required for routine operations. The new digital meters will reduce the loss over the line that is not accounted for due to the aging of the old meters, Hollingsworth said.
Once the system is complete, all meters will be read the first day of the month. But the billing cycle and due dates will still be staggered for convenience of the utility, the customer, and the billing department.
“We cannot bill and collect on the same day,” explained HSUD accounting manager D. Miller.
She said as employees learn the new system, the utility gets better satisfaction rates from customers.
“We are learning and growing,” she said. “If we talk to a complaining customer and we have a printout, we never have another complaint.”
Following the discussion, Hollingsworth asked the board if the city wants to participate in a free energy audit through the Mississippi Development Authority. The board voted to participate.
In other business, the mayor and board:
• learned that building and grounds is training two new employees while retraining those already on the force.
• heard a request from chief Robert Pearson to participate in a Jag grant. He said he would apply for $21,000 and buy equipment. Aldermen will be offered training on the National Incident Command management system. Training will be on-line at the Information Technology Center.
• declared a state of emergency to repair under-washing on Van Dorn during recent rains.
• took a report from IT director Ken Robnison on the results of OSHA training of city employees. Several classes have already graduated, he said.
• discussed a property swap between First State Bank and the city.
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