PUD Chooses Vendor for Meter Replacement

Presentation given to board by Kevin Streett, Assistant General Manager, June 26, 2017

Jefferson County PUD Board of Commissioners have chosen to purchase new electrical meters for all of its 19,000 electric customers from Itron. Itron is a technology and services company that provides solutions that measure, manage and analyze energy and water. Itron has customers in more than 100 countries and manages data from 38 million meters globally. The PUD currently has some Itron electric meters in use.

Itron was one of nine respondents to a Request for Proposals (RFP) sent out by the PUD in February. The RFP was the first in a multi-step plan to upgrade the electrical infrastructure acquired by the PUD when it purchased the electric utility business from Puget Sound Energy (PSE) in 2013. Itron received the nod from commissioners after a thorough review and scoring of the RFP based on pre-determined criteria, including cost. Not only did Itron score the best in the review, they also came in with the lowest bid price.

Most of the PUD’s current meters are an older mechanical style that use a radio transmitter to remotely read the meter. In addition to using an older technology, parts for the meters are hard to come by, require manual reading and may not be adequately capturing the total electric usage for the service location.

The new meters will help the PUD serve you better through reliability, efficiency and affordability. Benefits include:

  • Faster response to outages
  • More efficient power distribution, which keeps costs down for customers
  • Improved power quality (fewer spikes, blinks, and surges)
  • More accurate information about outages and restoration times
  • Remote reads, monitoring and reconnection of meters from PUD offices
  • Daily usage information for all customers
  • Enhanced abilities to detect power theft
  • Ability to offer “pre-paid” utility accounts

An implementation plan will be developed and communicated to customers prior to the replacement of any meters. The first meter replacements are projected to begin in late 2017. There is no cost to the customer for the replacement meter. The project costs have been built into the PUD’s budget. The entire project is estimated to cost the PUD $2.5 Million, which is less than originally budgeted. It is anticipated that it will take up to 4 years to replace all meters in the PUD service area. The PUD expects to recoup the costs of the project within 5 to 7 years through more accurate meter reads, less PUD staff requirements, less third party meter reading costs (currently costing the PUD $355,000 per year), lower cost meters (replacement), better customer communications, better outage management, and better system controls. The customer impact of the actual installation will be minimal. PUD customers can expect to lose power for a few minutes on the day of the installation.

Several policy areas still need to be worked out. Although PUD staff will inspect all meter bases and connections for safety prior to the meter replacement. If defects are found, the PUD has yet to determine who will pay to replace the customer-owned meter base. Meter base inspections are required to ensure the safe and reliable operation of the new meter.

The Board of Commissioners will also be considering policies and costs for customers to “opt out”. “Opt-out” is an alternative for customers who wish to have the radio frequency feature of their meter turned off. Other policies to be reviewed and potentially revised or created will deal with reconnect procedures, options on disconnects, demand response, and time of use rates.

Jefferson County PUD was organized in 1940 and is one of 28 current PUDs in Washington. In 2013, the PUD purchased electric service from the private utility serving eastern Jefferson County. The PUD now serves over 19,000 electric, 4,400 water and 300 sewer customers spread over 475 square miles. The PUD operates as a government entity with a 3-member Board of Commissioners elected to alternating six year terms. Public Utility District #1 of Jefferson County is an equal opportunity provider and employer.