City officials hope by the end of summer 2018, they can replace around 70,000 meters that monitor water or electricity in York County. The new ones are designed so city of Rock Hill utilities services and homeowners can more closely watch what’s going on.
So far, the city has replaced around 16,000 water or electric meters and installed units that can relay information to officials quicker in response to power outages or higher-than-normal use.
A few city of Rock Hill utilities customers have complained to the city about higher-than-normal utility bills, but Deputy City Manager Jimmy Bagley said it was simply a factor of timing.
Depending on when customers receive their bills, Bagley said, some homeowners may have received a bill based on five, six or seven weeks of use, rather than the normal four weeks. He said those customers did not receive their regular bill, but may have received the bill later, showing a higher total.
“It’s not that the new meters are causing the bill to be any higher,” Bagley said. “It’s the transition period that you didn’t get a bill last month like you normally do, and now we’re giving it to you maybe two months at a time.”
Future bills will remain on a monthly schedule, Bagley said.
Bagley said he and city staff are happy to work with customers on a payment plan for those who have trouble making the payment.
Rock Hill provides water to about 100,000 customers, including around 30,000 in Fort Mill, Tega Cay, the Catawba Indian Nation and other private water suppliers.
$15.5 million The Rock Hill City Council approved a $15.5 million lease-purchase agreement in Nov. 2015 for “advanced metering infrastructure” and a meter data management system.
City staff members say customers could save money on their monthly bills once Rock Hill fully launches a new web-based meter reader system.
The Rock Hill City Council approved a $15.5 million lease-purchase agreement in Nov. 2015 for “advanced metering infrastructure” and a meter data management system.
Once the new meters are fully implemented – possibly in about a year, Bagley said – the city and customers can better monitor their water and electricity use, and thereby save money.
Bagley said the new system will help emergency officials better communicate which homes in a neighborhood have power when there’s an outage. Currently, officials try to call homes to determine if there’s an outage.
“It’ll give everyone access to information in real-time,” Bagley said. “We can understand whether there’s outages because the computers can report it.”
It’ll give everyone access to information in real-time.
Jimmy Bagley, Rock Hill’s deputy city manager
And while Bagley said irregularities are rare, the new system can track any abnormal use of water or power. If a customer typically uses only a few gallons of water a day, but suddenly is running up much more use, Bagley said the city could track the use and call the customer to see if there is a leak.
Customers also could check their use, which would be updated every day on a website.
Under the current system, city meter readers collect information monthly on each household’s rate of use. That doesn’t give the city or the customer any insight, Bagley said.
The new electric meter will read about every five minutes, while the water meters will update four times a day.
“We’re trying to be more accurate and we’re saving time and money for the customer,” said Scott Turner, the city’s water and wastewater superintendent. “A person can access their portal on a daily or hourly basis and see how much use they have. They can have more access to learn how to control their use.”
100,000 Rock Hill provides water to about 100,000 customers, including around 30,000 in Fort Mill, Tega Cay, the Catawba Indian Nation and other private water suppliers.
Bagley said with more data available, customers can choose a pay date that best matches their cash flow. The system also offers a remote connect and disconnect option which would allow water and power to be turned on and off more quickly.
“If you forget a payment and it turns off,” Bagley said, “you can make a credit card payment and it’ll be able to get turned back on.”
While city officials have replaced older meters every five years or so, some electric and water meters could be as old as 25-30 years old, Bagley said.