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For more than two years, the states of Georgia and Alabama have been systematically deploying smart meters, moving north to the southern parts of the states. Columbus, Georgia residences and businesses are scheduled to receive around 90,000 meters in either Q4 2010 or Q1 2011.

Georgia Power spokeswoman Lynn Wallace says, “We’re doing pre-deployment work. What that means is we’re doing some very limited metering work right now in some of the remote areas around Columbus,”

In Alamaba, the Phenix City, Smiths Station and Valley are the latest areas where the meters have rolled out. Terry Weaver, customer service manager with Alabama Power’s Southeast Division reported to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer that around 25,000 meters have been changed out so far, with another 20,000 to go in those areas over the next couple of weeks.

“There are no additional costs that customers will see,” Weaver added, noting that the new meters, which he says takes less than 10 minutes to install, will monitor customers’ energy usage 24/7 using GPS coordinates and radio signals to acquire and store the information at central data centers. “It will enable us to better help a customer understand their usage patterns, first of all,” she said. “Secondly, it will help us to be able to better resolve issues with customers. With a daily reading we’ll be able to pinpoint exact measures of when there were increases seen and per-day usages for a customer.”

Weaver also credited the meters with an indirect positive environmental impact by eliminating the need for meter reader vehicles. “Since we started replacing these [meters], we’ve eliminated about 3 million miles of vehicle travel,” she said. “We’ve reduced emissions like nitrogen oxide and [volatile organic compounds] and carbon dioxide pretty significantly.”

Alabama Power expects to complete its rollout of the new meters by the end of 2010; Georgia Power’s deployment is schedule to finish in 2012.

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