SWEPCO’s Smart Meter Deployment in Louisiana Well Underway
A smart meter can even proactively help prevent a power outage.
Southwestern Electric Power Company, better known as SWEPCO, has its deployment of smart meters well underway. And the power company held its latest open house last night [Monday, January 22], this time at Louisiana Key Academy in Shreveport. Such events allow customers to ask all the questions they may have about the new hi-tech upgrade directly to a SWEPCO representative. In fact, SWEPCO had recently announced it is earing completion of nearly 200,000 smart meter installations across Texas. And now, thousands more are heading across Louisiana.
SWEPCO also released a brief explainer video to the public to help answer customer questions, as well. That video can be found online on YouTube, a portion of which shows a SWEPCO technician outside of a customer’s home, replacing an older meter with the new smart meter in about 30 seconds. Once installed, the customer is able to go online and see their electric usage for themselves in 15 minute intervals. SWEPCO says the smart meter provides more control over their energy use and billing.
It was the Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC) that gave SWEPCO the green light to [on September 20, 2023] complete its Advanced Metering System deployment plan. The LPSC gave its approval for SWEPCO to build on what it describes as a successful pilot program, which began in late 2021 for 10,000 Bossier City customers and 2,000 Natchitoches area customers.
SWEPCO’s AMS infrastructure manager Elric Brian says in the event of a really bad storm, the smart meter can help identify what's wrong much quicker, before crews even arrive at the scene. Brian points out a smart meter can even proactively help prevent a power outage, explaining, “This new meter, we're about to determine […]if a transformer is going bad out there, we’re being determined ahead of time to actually look, ‘this transformer is going bad. Let's go ahead and get this transformer changed before [an] outage actually occurs.’”
SWEPCO officials say they notify customers by mail, email and phone before a smart meter is installed. Once completed, the company says the smart meter eliminates the need for manual and estimated meter readings.
Not all of SWEPCO’s 234,000 Louisiana customers welcome the switch to smart meters for a variety of reasons. They include privacy concerns, cybersecurity vulnerabilities, billing accuracy, affordability, health implications, and technology dependencies. SWEPCO leaders say the deployment of smart meters will continue across the entire state through 2025.