The meter upgrade program in the City of Clinton is improving personnel efficiency and customer service in many areas of the city. A year ago, it would take two city field service technicians a full day to gather the utility information needed to bill customers in the Lydia Mill neighborhood. This week it only took 90 minutes. The extra time saved can now be used by the city’s two field service technicians to tackle other issues related to the utility system in Clinton.
Utility Billing Coordinator Kevin Hawkins said “A year ago, personnel had to climb over fences and watch out for people’s pets to get to the electric meter on many homes in Lydia Mill. They would also have to track down customers and ask them to move cars out-of-the-way so they could access the water meters. It made getting the data needed to bill our customers time-consuming and intrusive. With the new meter system, most of those problems go away.” Hawkins supervises the field service technicians who read the city’s nearly 8,000 water and electric meters.
Lydia Mill is the first neighborhood in Clinton to benefit from the new water and electric meters, mainly because the neighborhood got a head start with federal and local funding. Nearly $2 million dollars were spent upgrading and replacing the water lines in the Lydia Mill neighborhood, and as part of that project, new advanced water meters capable of being read using a radio device mounted in a city truck were installed throughout the neighborhood. City personnel then replaced many electric meters in the neighborhood so that they could be read using the same system.
The city of Clinton intends to upgrade all the water and electric meters in the city over the next 36 months. In addition to saving lots of time for Field Service Technicians to address other issues in town, the system also provides more detailed information so that customer service representatives can give customers better insight into their utility bills; perhaps identifying ways that customers can save money by adjusting their electricity and water usage patterns.
Clinton Chief Information Officer Phil Hasty said “Once the meters are upgraded throughout the city, there will be a second phase of the project to allow portions of the city to be read using the city’s fiber optic communication network that is already in place.”
Joey Meadors, the Director of Administrative Service for the city, indicates that the water meter change out is about 14% complete and that by using city personnel to install the meters the city is saving money over the use of a contractor. “We’ve found data that shows that contractors can charge up to $90 per meter for a project such as this, and our costs are considerably less and the quality of work we are getting from our personnel is very good,” he said.