In two weeks, Westar Energy plans to begin its mass installation of smart meters throughout Lawrence.
Westar has set Oct. 17 as the day that meter installation will begin, Westar’s SmartStar director Hal Jensen said.
The installations are expected to start in the southwest corner of the city. By the end of the year, Westar hopes to be predominantly finished with all of the 44,000 meter exchanges.
Part of the $39 million smart meter project includes upgrading computer and software technology used to operate Westar’s customer base. Integrating smart meter data to flow between the company’s departments, such as customer service and billing, has taken longer than expected.
Those delays have pushed installation of the meters back by almost six months. However, Jensen stressed that the difficulties haven’t been with the meters themselves or communication between the meters and Westar’s main technology hub.
“That is proven and tested technology,” Jensen said.
In January, [Westar installed several hundred smart meters] in a pilot project in the Deerfield neighborhood. So far, about 25 percent of the customers in the pilot neighborhood actively access the online information, and a few of those customers have signed up for other online information, such as budget alerts and weekly and monthly summaries of energy use.
Before the next round of meters goes in, installers will knock on customers’ doors to inform them of the switch. Those customers’ power will be off for one or two minutes.
When the installation is finished, a packet will be left on the customers’ front doors explaining how to access data online. If Westar is unable to exchange the meter, workers will leave a note on the door asking for the resident to call the company and set up a time for the exchange.
A day after the new meters are installed, customers should be able to access online information. With the smart meters, customers will be able to go online and track their energy usage by the hour.
The idea is that the information can help customers make better decisions on energy consumption. One day, the meter could provide the data needed to establish a new pricing structure in which energy is most expensive when demand is at its highest.
More information about smart meters and Westar’s installation plans can be found online at WestarEnergy.com/SmartStar.
: http://Westar installed several hundred smart meters