INDEPENDENCE, Ore. -- In rural parts of Oregon people are getting smart meters for the first time. Pacific Power says it could save thousands of people money on their electric bill. Folks in Independence are leading the charge.
Mitch Teal, who owns Brew Coffee and Tap House on Main Street, says that while his biggest focus is on providing good food and good drink, he has to keep his mind on the electric bill. They just installed a new smart meter.
“It sounds like maybe it is a small thing, but it really helps,” said Teal.
Teal says he likes that information about his power bill is now at the tip of his fingers.
“I can tell if my employees left the lights on or oven on because my normal usage would be different at that time," he said.
Smart meters can alert people via text or email when their electricity usage is unusually high. Utility companies can respond to outages faster.
“We are giving Oregonians that we serve an upgrade,” said Pacific Power regional business manager Celest Krueger.
Pacific Power is going to be installing smart meters for all of their customers. PGE customers have had them for years but this is new for rural areas.
“The time is right, the technology is secure, and customers are wanting to have more options for how they look at their utilities,” said Krueger.
Pacific Power is starting the installations in Independence. The small town has a history of adopting new technology such as broadband and smart agriculture.
“This is just part of the continuum,” said economic development director Shawn Irvine. “Where I see us being a small vibrant rural community but a community that embraces technology for all the benefits it can offer.”
For Teal, the smart meters could be good for the bottom line and he is glad more areas are getting to use them.
“Everything matters, everything matters in a small business. The margins are small especially in a small town like this. So if I can save a dollar or a minute that's a big deal.”
Pacific Power plans to install 590,000 smart meters to all their customers by fall 2019.