BEND, Ore. - (Update: Adding opt out fee info)
Pacific Power announced Tuesday it is bringing "more efficient and effective" smart meters to residential and business customers in Central Oregon, replacing thousands of aging electric meters throughout the spring and summer.
About 76,000 new meters will be installed in Bend, Culver, Madras, Metolius, Powell Butte, Prineville, Redmond, Terrebonne and Warm Springs. The installations are set to begin the week of April 29 and will continue through early fall.
The project is part of a statewide rollout of 590,000 smart meters which began in January 2018 in Independence, Oregon. To date, meter upgrades have been made for approximately two-thirds of Pacific Power customers.
“We’re installing smart meters here locally as part of an upgrade for the homes and businesses we serve,” said Matt Chancellor, Pacific Power’s regional business manager for Central Oregon. “The meters offer customers greater insight into their energy usage and help promote energy savings – a benefit that supports the City of Bend and the surrounding area in helping to meet energy goals for the future.”
The utility said they new smart meters will:
- Instantly track outages, meaning faster service response and shorter outages overall.
- Let customers view their power usage hour-by-hour, so they can adjust their activity to reduce both their carbon footprint and bill.
- Provide businesses with detailed usage reporting which will help them cut costs and make investments in items that help their businesses grow.
- Update the grid to work more efficiently and better integrate renewable power sources.
Nationwide, more than 70 million smart meters are installed at homes and businesses, which includes half of all households in the U.S.
Smart meters are a key component to updating the energy grid originally built for technology from 100 years ago. They also help Pacific Power hold down operating costs, improve customer service and reliability while maintaining the highest standards of security and customer privacy.
“This upgrade brings the future of reliable and efficient power to our region and to our state,” said Chancellor. “We are connecting communities throughout Oregon, improving the way we power our customers’ lives both at home and at work.”
Access to daily energy usage information will be available to customers via a secure website. The near real-time energy usage information will let customers better understand what is driving their electric bills and help them make decisions that can save energy and money. This capability will come about six weeks after a new meter is installed.
Here’s what customers can expect during the installation process:
- Customers will be notified before installation through the mail and will receive detailed information about the new smart meters. Reminder calls will be made to customers as their scheduled installation date approaches.
- Pacific Power’s authorized installer, Aclara, will arrive between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. to make installations. Installers will drive vehicles and carry badges that identify them as an authorized contractor of Pacific Power. Unless an electric meter is inside, they will not need to enter customer homes or businesses. There is no charge for the installation or the meter.
- During the installation, Pacific Power technicians will remove the old meter, install the new meter, restore service and verify the new meter is working properly. This process will require a brief power outage (less than five minutes). The technicians will leave a door hanger to let customers know they were there, and successfully installed the new smart meter.
- Pacific Power will manually read the newly installed smart meters for at least one month to confirm everything is working correctly. After confirmation activities are complete in the area, meter reading will happen remotely.
- Approximately six weeks following the installation when all area installs are complete, customers can sign in to their Pacific Power account to access the newly available usage data. Customers can sign up for their web account here.
If customers have any concerns, have not received the proper series of notices or have any reason to think a notification is not legitimate, customers should hang up and call Pacific Power’s customer service at 1-800-221-7070 immediately to verify whether they are scheduled for an installation.
Additional information, including installation updates are available at www.pacificpower.net/smartmeter. Customers can also call 866-869-8520 for help with any questions.
The utility does allow customers to opt out of the program, but there is a fee involved. Here's a full news release issued March 12 on that element of the program:
Pacific Power offers new Equal Payment Plan Opt-out option
Customers choosing to opt-out of the statewide meter upgrade can now select a new plan to reduce monthly fees
PORTLAND, Ore. — As part of a statewide metering upgrade designed to improve service to customers through shorter outages and hour-by-hour energy usage information, Pacific Power is providing an additional offering for customers who wish to opt out. As part of a final filing to the Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Oregon on Monday, March 11, Pacific Power will now offer a commission-approved Equal Payment Plan Opt-out option to help reduce monthly fees starting March 13.
“We’ve heard from customers that the fee to opt out of a smart meter is burdensome, and we have continued to look for new options,” said Pacific Power Vice President of Regulation, Etta Lockey. “This has been a collaborative process with the PUC and the Citizens’ Utility Board, and we are pleased to offer this new option to customers.”
Smart meters wirelessly deliver hour-by-hour energy usage information to customers via their online account, eliminating the need to wait for a manual meter read and a monthly bill. While only around 1 percent of customers are opting out of the meter upgrade, choosing to do so adds a cost to continue manual meter reads.
The Equal Payment Option reduces opt-out fees for customers from the current $36 a month to $9 a month, by reducing the number of manual reads to three times per year ($36 per reading, spread across 12 months). It also allows customers to pay a level or equal monthly amount based on a historical average of their previous bills.
The standard opt-out plan will continue to be available as well and provides monthly manual $36 meter reads and bills based on monthly usage.
Customers must select the new option by calling 1-866-869-8520. All residential customers with non-standard meters are eligible to participate. Residential customers with net meters, time of use meters or demand registers would not qualify because it is necessary for the company to obtain routine meter reads to bill customers under those circumstances accurately.
Pacific Power’s upgrade of 590,000 meters began in January 2018 and continues through 2019. Installs are already complete for more than two-thirds of Pacific Power customers in Oregon. An opt-out option was made available during the upgrade to customers who choose to opt-out. In August, Pacific Power removed a $137 fee covering a future replacement of a non-communicative meter with a smart meter to help address the upfront financial impact of the program. This new Equal Payment Plan Opt-out option is part of Pacific Power’s continued review of opt-out fees, to ensure costs are fair for all customers.
Additional information on smart meters, including installation updates, are available at www.pacificpower.net/smartmeter. Customers can also call 866-869-8520 for help with any questions.
About Pacific Power
Pacific Power provides electric service to more than 740,000 customers in Oregon, Washington and California. The company works to meet growing energy demand while protecting and enhancing the environment. Pacific Power is part of PacifiCorp, one of the lowest-cost electricity producers in the United States, with 1.9 million customers in six western states Information about Pacific Power is available on the company’s website, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages, which can be accessed via pacificpower.net.