PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 2, 2002 — PECO Energy and its partners are rapidly completing the deployment of the largest meter automation project in the nation as it installed its two millionth meter this past week in suburban Philadelphia.
The automated meter network places PECO on the “leading edge of technology that will provide enhanced customer service” for its electric and natural gas customers in southeastern Pennsylvania, said Ken Lawrence, PECO president. PECO said the project is moving along with completion anticipated later this year, and Lawrence said the automated meters now in service are certainly proving their value.
The project deploys SchlumbergerSema’s new solid-state CENTRON meter, which is more accurate in measuring energy usage and ensured proper billing for customers. It collects data continuously and relays the information via a wireless network spanning across the region.
Each customer’s meter was replaced or retrofitted on site by employees of VSI Inc. and PECO. VSI is an Infrasource company that is a longtime contractor for PECO. About 200 individuals have been canvassing local communities, installing on average about 75,000 meters each month over the past 26 months.
The automated meters will mean PECO no longer will need to visit a customer property each month to read the meter or to transfer accounts when a customer relocates. A customer consultant can utilize a reading provided by the fixed wireless network to produce final billing on the last day of service for the account. Roughly 40 percent of PECO meters are indoors or hard to access, and the meter automation will assure monthly bills are not estimated and sent on time.
Additionally, PECO can more easily assist customers who call with an account inquiry since the usage information is updated online every day. Sandy Goodwin, PECO’s manager leading the massive project, said automated meters allow the company to be more flexible with customers who need meter readings and to advise customers more about their energy usage patterns based on the daily meter readings.
The project has given the company a unique and beneficial opportunity to visit every customer property. Meter installers have re-attached meter boxes not secured to the building and identified other unsafe conditions, found active accounts for vacant and abandoned buildings, and repaired more than a thousand low-level natural gas leaks.
“PECO wishes to thank customers for their cooperation and warm reception in allowing us to complete our work as part of this very important mission. We get calls all of the time from customers, and they speak to the trust they have with PECO personnel coming to their house, which is quite gratifying for us,” Goodwin said. “We wholeheartedly believe this technology holds great potential and will help us serve customers even better in the future.”
PECO, an Exelon Company, delivers electricity to more than 1.5 million customers and natural gas to 442,000 customers in six southeastern Pennsylvania counties. The Company is based in Philadelphia, PA, with offices throughout the city and suburbs. It employs about 2,700 employees and generates $4 billion in revenue for Exelon Corp. Exelon is among the 10 largest utility companies in the nation with the largest retail customer base, the fourth largest power generation, and a leading wholesale energy trading operation. PECO’s sister utility, Commonwealth Edison, serves Chicago and northern Illinois.