LOUISIANA (KTAL/KMSS) – The Louisiana Public Service Commission has given the green light for Swepco to deploy smart meters across the state.
This approval comes after Swepco held a pilot program for the meters in Bossier Parish and central Louisiana in 2021.
“The Smart meter is a wireless technology which means that everything is done remotely, much like a remote control,” said Swepco spokesperson, Michelle Marcotte.
The standard practice for Swepco is to drive by houses and the meters will connect to their technology in the vehicle. Now, readings can be taken from the Swepco office.
“They [smart meters] enable us to be able to have faster response times to outages because the communication system connects to our internal systems and alerts us when there’s an outage at a residence or a business,” said Marcotte.
According to Swepco, the smart meters will also give customers more control over their energy bill through a new tool called, “home energy management.” It can be opened on the Swepco website or through the mobile app.
“So, rather then, you’re seeing a total for a month, you’ll be able to see it day-to-day, hour-to-hour, you know where you could make different decisions based on if you’re using a lot of energy and you want to lower your bill, you have the ability now to do that,” said Marcotte.
These benefits do come at a fee. On the next bill, customers will see a $3.24 surcharge. This will be a recurring monthly fee for the next four years, then the following four years it will drop to $2.75 monthly.
“Yes, there is this surcharge that we have to cover the cost of bringing this new technology to our customers, but this new technology is enabling our customers to make decisions on their energy usage and, and possibly lower their bill to save that money,” said Marcotte.
Customers have the option to opt-out of the smart meters, but there is a fee associated to cover the manual process. The opt-out fee is $22.45 every month, which will not end after eight years like with the smart meter install. Additionally, there is a one-time $111-220 fee that is dependent on whether or not the meter has been installed.
Next month, in October, deployment will begin in the Bossier Parish area. Swepco will then move to the other areas of the Louisiana service territory through 2025.
“We’re going to communicate with customers through email, phone, and you’ll get a postcard in the mail letting you know, hey we’re about to go into your area. But then once you have your meter installed, we’ll also communicate with you about the benefits,” said Marcotte.