BUTTE — It’s been 20 years since Northwestern Energy has replaced its electric meters for its customers, and now the Butte-based utility is running across the state to replace them.
“It really is the evolution of meters, so we are delivering safe and reliable service to our customers,” said Community Relations Manager Paul Babb.
While the utility claims the current meters are still reliable, they say the upgraded meters will offer improved remote readings. “We’ll be reading it now three times a day, so the accuracy will be better,” said Babb.
The upgrade will be at no extra cost to customers. Butte and Whitehall should be completed by the end of the year, and then the utilities will move on to the rest of the state. The new meters will provide faster connections.
“Right now we have to have one of our servicemen to go out and turn on and turn off. With this, we'll be able to do it right from our back office, so the speed of that is going to be very convenient for our customers,” said Babb.
It’ll take about 15 minutes to replace one meter and there will be about less than a minute of a power outage, and that’s why the utility will work closely with businesses so that interruption won’t be too inconvenient.
“So they want to make sure you’re not going to show up at my restaurant right at the busiest time. No, we’re going to work around your schedule. We’re working and coordinating to make sure this is going to go as smooth as possible,” said Babb.
It could take three years to upgrade the state’s 590,000 electric meters. Anyone with questions or concerns can call NorthWestern Energy at 1-800-486-4280.