SEATTLE – Seattle City Light customers started receiving some of the early benefits of Advanced Metering today after computer programming was completed to enable the utility’s billing system to receive electricity use data directly.
Connecting Advanced Metering data to City Light’s billing system eliminates several manual processes that create the potential for errors. It also enables customer service representatives to provide customers with current account balances, eliminates estimated bills that are created when a meter can’t be read and speeds the process for transferring or closing an account.
“Improving service for our customers while increasing our efficiency is one of the key reasons we are upgrading to Advanced Metering,” Customer Service Director Kelly Enright said. “Today is just the start. As we move forward, we will continue to put more power in our customers’ hands to better manage their bills and make informed choices about their energy use.”
City Light has installed about 200,000 advanced meters and expects to upgrade the remaining meters in its service territory by the end of the year.
As additional computer systems are connected to Advanced Metering data, the program will support automated power outage reporting and an online portal that will allow customers to check their energy usage and costs whenever they want.
Additionally, the transition to Advanced Metering will eliminate about 200,000 miles of driving and 72 tons of carbon emissions.
Over the next 15 years, Advanced Metering is expected to pay for the cost of the program and save City Light’s customer-owners about $30 million.
You can learn more about the program at www.seattle.gov/light/meters .
Seattle City Light’s Advanced Metering program is in full swing, and we are well on our way towards our goal of installing 420,000 new meters across our service area. But we have heard some troubling reports today: Phone scammers are calling City Light customers and using Advanced Metering installations as a pretext to swindle hard-working folks out of their money.
Advanced Metering costs are covered by City Light’s operating expenses. If anyone claims over the phone that you owe money before you can get a new meter, hang up right away.
Seattle City Light wants to empower and protect customers from falling victim to scam attacks. Seattle City Light will never call demanding immediate payment over the phone. If you receive a call from someone demanding payment, hang up on them and be a HANG UP HERO!
We follow specific protocol when receiving payments or notifying a customer when we will shut off power. We are also not demanding payment for service of new meters being installed or will never demand immediate payment for any type of service provided from Seattle City Light.
Seattle City Light Employees will:
- Never call, email, or make a home visit requesting an immediate payment.
- Never call on the weekend
- Never call to request credit card, banking, or financial information
- Never email you to request credit card, banking, or financial information
- Never request credit card banking or financial information during a home visit
- Never shutoff service without providing written warning in advance
- Always provide Employee Identification
Scammers may demand thousands of dollars and threaten to shut off power if payment isn’t made immediately. Vulnerable residents may be specially targeted by scammers including non-English speaking individuals, elderly people, and small-business owners. These threats can take place over the phone, by email, or in-person at customer homes and businesses. Some scammers may use caller ID impersonating Seattle City Light’s customer service number to convince customers that they are talking to the utility.
“Just hang up on anyone demanding immediate payment,” says Kelly Enright, Director of Customer Care at Seattle City Light. “If you’re ever in doubt when you receive a suspicious call, just reach out to us directly. By initiating the call, you’ll have more confidence in who you’re speaking with on the other end of the line.”
If customers have concerns about the validity of a contact and want to ensure they’re talking to Seattle City Light, they are encouraged to call Seattle City Light directly at (206) 684-3000. Learn more about how to avoid becoming a victim at: www.seattle.gov/light/EndScams.
SEATTLE – Seattle City Light began upgrading existing electricity meters today with advanced meters that will enhance services for customers and help the publicly owned utility operate more efficiently.
Senior Customer Service Representative Joanna Perley does a quality assurance check on a newly-installed advanced meter.
“Today’s installation is a big step toward modernizing the service Seattle City Light provides its customers,” City Light Customer Care Director Kelly Enright said. “Upgrading our metering technology will put more power into our customers’ hands so they can better manage their energy use and it will empower our employees to provide even better service.”
City Light will replace more than 420,000 meters across its service territory by the end of 2018.
The new meters will provide more accurate billing by eliminating the estimated reads currently used to generate a bill when a meter reader is unable to access a customer’s meter or complete a route. Once the Advanced Metering data is connected to other utility computer systems, power outages will be reported automatically and customers will be able to access their energy use information online. The new meters also create opportunities for additional enhancements in the future, such as account balance alerts, monthly billing and optional time-of-use rates to support electric vehicle charging.
“Advanced Metering will be good for the environment too,” Enright said. “Eliminating the need to send a meter reader to your home or business cuts out 200,000 miles of driving and 72 tons of carbon emissions.”
There is no charge for a customer to receive an advanced meter. City Light will provide three notifications before exchanging an existing meter with an advanced meter. A letter will be sent about six weeks ahead of the exchange. A post card will be sent about two weeks before the exchange. And an automated phone call will be made one to three days before the installation.
Customers who do not wish to participate in Advanced Metering can opt out of the program. Fees will apply. For more information, visit www.seattle.gov/light/meters.
Seattle City Light achieved a significant milestone in its Advanced Metering program on May 31, 2017, with the completion of the communications network that will deliver energy usage information wirelessly from the advanced meters to the utility.
“Installation of the communications network is the first critical step for delivering Advanced Metering and the enhanced services it will eventually provide customers,” Program Manager J.R. Gonzalez said. “Completing this work keeps us on schedule to start exchanging existing meters this summer.”
Advanced Metering is a $94 million program that will upgrade the technology for about 450,000 meters in City Light’s service territory. About 7,000 meters have been installed already for new construction.
City Light’s communications network consists of 49 collectors and 340 routers that gather fully–encrypted data from those meters and deliver it to the utility.
When each group of meters is installed, connected to the communications network and activated, the utility will be able to collect energy usage information and generate customer bills without sending meter readers to customers’ homes. This will reduce about 200,000 miles of driving each year and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with those trips. It also will eliminate most instances of estimated reads that occur when a meter reader can’t access a meter for any reason, such as a locked gate or a dog in the yard.
Once the Advanced Metering system is integrated with other utility computer systems, City Light customers will benefit from automated outage reporting and eventually the ability to view their energy usage online along with what it costs.
This technology upgrade creates a platform for other possible enhanced services City Light could consider in the future, such as pre-paid accounts, billing alerts and alternate rate structure options that could help customers reduce their energy costs.
Seattle City Light recently completed the final upgrades on several utility poles in support of the Advanced Metering program. Crews replaced 27 different poles across City Light’s service territory with new 70-foot poles and wireless infrastructure.
The taller pole helps support the new wireless equipment by transmitting data for the utility. A wireless communications network is also in place to help support the Advanced Metering program, which will automate meter reading and enable enhanced services for City Light customers.
Throughout the project, crews also used the opportunity to upgrade the infrastructure and replace poles in poor condition.
City Light appreciates the patience of its customers during the construction of this project.
For more information about this project and others in your neighborhood, please visit Seattle City Light’s “At Work in Your Neighborhood” website. Search for utility construction projects in your area by neighborhood, address and ZIP code.