Technology improvements have enabled people to increase their efficiency, boost productivity and enjoy new conveniences.
Smart phones have replaced rotary-dial land line phones. Digital recordings have largely replaced compact discs, which replaced cassette tapes and vinyl records. We don’t even need to discuss 8-track tapes. And when was the last time you saw a VHS recorder?
Those are just a few of the technological advances that have taken place since many of Seattle City Light’s electrical meters were installed in the 50s, 60s and 70s.
It’s time for an upgrade.
This summer, City Light will begin replacing its aging, existing meters with advanced meters that can deliver energy consumption information to the utility wirelessly. We expect the rollout to take 18 months to complete. This new technology will help City Light become more efficient and enable a host of service improvements for customers once the meters are fully connected to the utility’s computer systems.
Outage detection – Today, when there’s a power outage, we might not know about it until one of our customers calls to report it. With Advanced Metering, the meter will send an alert immediately, which means our crews will have a faster start to getting the lights back on. It will also help us confirm whether repairs have brought all customers back into service.
More accurate billing – Everyone deserves to have an accurate measurement of the electricity they use and what that costs. Advanced meters will be accurate within two tenths of 1 percent. That’s 10 times more accurate than our existing meters were when they were new.
Additionally, Advanced Meters will eliminate most billing estimates. Currently, if a meter reader is unable to read your meter for any reason, we estimate your usage based on historical consumption then true up your bill when we can get an actual reading. Unfortunately, this can lead to large swings in what you pay if our estimate misses the mark. With Advanced Metering, that problem goes away.
Convenience – Since Advanced Metering eliminates the need for meter readers, you won’t have to worry about whether you locked the gate or left your dog outside on the day your meter reader would have shown up.
More power in your hands – With Advanced Metering, customers will be able to log in to an online display of their energy usage information. You’ll be able to get daily updates on how much electricity you have used, when you used it and how much it cost. That can reduce surprises from big bills and help people better manager their energy use.
Enabling even more improvements in the future – With Advanced Metering in place, City Light will be able to consider other service improvements. Some of the possibilities include monthly billing, pre-paid accounts, alerts when your account balance reaches an amount you choose, and optional rate structures, such as time of use rates to support lower-cost overnight electric vehicle charging.
We’re excited to provide this technology upgrade to our customers. If for any reason, you don’t want to participate and receive these benefits, you can opt out. Fees will apply. For more information, visit www.seattle.gov/light/ami.