BWL is upgrading its customers' meters.
In a pilot program starting later this month, 140 customers in East Lansing's Bailey neighborhood will have smart meters installed on their homes.
BWL General Manager, J. Peter Lark said, "During an outage they will not have to actually call us or email us or go to our mobile app, we will know that they don't have power."
Because BWL can read each individual home or business's meter remotely.
And, BWL said the new meters could also save customers money.
"They'll be able to take a more direct look at their usage on a daily basis ..... On our website, they'll be able to determine within 15 minutes how much power they're using," GM Lark explained.
While there are several benefits, some people are concerned about their privacy.
"The information that is recorded in your house, it tells the utility company what time you get up in the morning, what time you get up at night. It tells the utility company what time you cook your food. it gives them a whole array of information." Dominic Cousimano said. He's an advocate for people opposed to the meters.
But, BWL said no one is forced into the program. "Yes, we will have information as to how much power is used at any given hour. But any customer who wants - who does not want to be part of this pilot program may indicate as much to us and we'll pull them out of the program," explained GM Lark.
And, BWL assures us the smart meters meet FCC standards.
"That's what the pilot's for, so we can see exactly how things operate, but we don't expect any problems along that line. These are completely safe, according to the FCC," GM Lark said.
BWL said there are bound to be problems along the way and plan to address them as they come up.
The pilot program will last 6 months. If it works well, BWL plans to install smart meters for all of its customers over the next 2 to 3 years.