LPEA considers charge for refusing ‘smart meter’


By Indiana Reed

Special to The SUN

The La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) Board of Directors will host two community meetings to receive input on the anticipated meter-reading fee that will be assessed of members who “opt out” of installation of a new AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure) meter. The meter reading fee under consideration is $25 to $50 per month.

The meetings are set for 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 8, at the Ross Aragon Community Center in Pagosa Springs, and Thursday, Oct. 9, at LPEA headquarters in Durango, 45 Stewart St. (Bodo Industrial Park).

LPEA, in concert with most utilities across the country, is in the process of replacing its analog meters with a new AMI system (sometimes referenced as “smart meters”). Approximately three-quarters of LPEA’s 41,000 meters are now AMI. According to LPEA officials, the new meters are already proving beneficial, streamlining efficiencies and saving money, as well as enabling members with the AMI meters to securely monitor their energy usage via LPEA’s SmartHub at www.lpea.coop.

“Ideally, for the benefit of all the members of the co-op, no one would ‘opt out’ of an AMI meter,” said Mike Dreyspring, LPEA CEO, noting that the system is designed to work collectively for optimum results. “Those who insist on keeping an existing analog meter will require LPEA and its members to shoulder extra costs, which is why the board is looking at a fee for reading, testing and maintaining these existing meters.”

According to Dreyspring, the public meetings are specifically to hear comments about the proposed fee, not be a discussion of the AMI system itself. LPEA has received public input on AMI meters over the past several years, most recently at the August board of directors meeting.

“In consideration for everyone’s time, we’re asking that members of the public who attend our up-coming meetings limit their comments to three minutes,” said Dreyspring. “I’m told by our media folks that this translates to about a 500 to 600-word comment. If there are questions, we will do our best to thoroughly respond.”

Additional information on LPEA’s AMI system is available at www.lpea.coop, or contact LPEA at 247-5786.