The city of West Plains begins installing new electric meters

WEST PLAINS, Mo. -- The process of replacing old, outdated electric meters in West Plains began Wednesday. The new meters will have a big impact on the City Utility customers both now and in the future.

The current meter reading technology the city uses was installed 15 years ago. Meters started slowing down.

"They have a 12 year life expectancy. It has been out in the field for 15 years now. We are seeing some considerable concerns with that," Electric Supervisor Jeff Hanshaw told KY3.

In many cases, customers couldn't read their meters.

"Displays were going bad, Hanshaw added. Customers are not able to see the reading on there. Now, we can still read them with our handheld devices but that's only for our information. In order to give better awareness for the customers and better customer service, we are installing the AMI meters which will have the new display on them."

Overall, the infrastructure update and new equipment will cost $1.9 million.

New collectors and receivers are being installed on power poles, that will talk to the meters in the field, constantly updating back at city hall.

"One of the biggest advantages for us is that we will be able to remotely disconnect or reconnect meters from the office, Hanshaw said. We will no longer have to deploy a truck to each one of those locations. Also, customers will be able to come to the office and we can tell them if they are having any voltage problems. The other thing that helps us as a utility is that we will be able to have an outage management service with this. It will let us know whenever we have outages out in the field and be able to respond to those quicker."

The new technology will allow for other upgrades in the future.

"One of those luxuries that we're going to have with this system is a prepay option, where customers can go in and pay they're electric bill, literally by the day, if they so desire," Hanshaw said.

"I actually think that's a good idea. We've had bills before and been like, 'wow, that's a little high this month,' but there's no way to really check it," Cappy Foe of West Plains said.

Installation will cause your power to go off, but it only lasts a minute while the new meter is installed. Hanshaw expects the replacement process to take between two and three years.