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Some Mountain View Electric customers question new meters

Automation verses Privacy
Posted at 7:28 PM, Jan 16, 2020

EL PASO COUNTY — The CEO of Mountain View Electric in southern Colorado says there is no need for concern about a new meter reading system replacing the old one.

"A next generation meter, that gives us a little more data and a little more information," said Mountain View Electric CEO Jim Herron.

Several KOAA News5 followers asked about risk to personal information. They also want to know why there is a $25 fee to opt out of the system.

Twenty to 30 years ago, a meter reader on foot went house to house. Then technology moved to a radio signal, transmitting data gathered by a vehicle equipped with a receiver doing a once a month drive-by. The new meters also use a radio signal.

“A fixed collector rather than the one that’s in the truck,” Herron said. It gathers data continuously.

Herron says there are many advantages.

"The good thing about that is, it allows us to know whenever their power might go out," Herron said.

An automated monitoring system then notifies crews of the issue. It also expedites service for someone moving who want to end service.

The daily information is also available to users who can see their bill on-line. The new system shows day to day power use rather than monthly. The information can help individual users better understand how and when their bill adds up to a large expense.

An example is a hot day, and someone opts for air conditioning rather than open windows.

"Go online and look at your account the next day and see how much usage you had. And if you feel like it's too much you can turn the air conditioning down or don't turn it on at all," Herron said.

It is data transmitted from your home and some ask if it is another way for scammers to get personal information. According to Herron, the transmitted information is only identified by a meter number.

"The meter number actually ties it in with our data base and when it gets back here [to headquarters] we can tell where it came from, but out there, there's no way to tell," Herron said.

Those who do not trust the automated system can opt out for a $25 monthly fee. It pays the expense of sending someone out to read meters in person.