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Plans for automated meters moving forward


Jeff Clark


A $6-million energy efficiency program is under way for Columbus residents. Automatic meter readers will be installed for all of the electric company's customers by the time the project is completed. 


Although the program is far from implementation, Columbus Light and Water General Manager Todd Gale said meter testing has already started. 


"Currently, we are testing about 500 electric meters and about 500 water meters," Gale said. "4-County (Electric Power Association) already has theirs installed, but we are trying to do a combination of electric meters and water meters. Our goal is where individuals can one day log into an account and see how much electricity and water they are using." 


Gale said he started advertising for automatic meter vendors in May 2010. 


Once installed, the automatic meter readers will eliminate the need for employees to physically read the meters. 


"$5.5 million of this loan is going to the replacement of the meters," chief financial officer Mike Bernsen said. "The new meters will allow the meters to be read from a central office." 


Bernsen said the rest of the money will be used for an audit of the city's electric needs. 


"We decided to put both the $5.5 million and the $500,000 under one loan," Bernsen said. "We originally planned to have the loan with the energy savings company Siemens, but as a city, we can only have $10 million in loans a year, so we needed to have the loan split. Siemens wasn't able to split the loan so we went with Regions bank here in Columbus." 


Bernsen said the city will receive $1.8 million of the loan this year.




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