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Elkhorn plan aims to ensure accuracy of utility meters

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Darryl Enriquez
March 17, 2011
— Elkhorn Water Utility hopes to launch a new program to test the accuracy and reliability of its 4,402 electric meters.

The utility this year likely will spend $53,571 to start the program that will examine residential, commercial and industrial meters, utility manager Art Schmitz said.


The municipal services and utility committee this week approved a plan that ultimately would establish a schedule of accuracy checks for city electric meters. The testing program must receive city council approval.


The Wisconsin Public Service Commission requires that electric meters regularly be tested, and Schmitz said the utility needs to have a testing program in place to remain in compliance with that state regulation.


For the past 17 years, the utility contracted Alliant Energy to test meters. Alliant had the utility remove the meters, replace them with new meters and ship the removed meters to Madison for testing.


Alliant stopped doing that service early last year, Schmitz said.


Under Schmitz's plan, meters would be tested in place by workers using handheld devices.


Schmitz did not immediately know how much money his program would save, but he said it would be cheaper because the cost of having the meters tested in Madison would be gone.


Elkhorn has the 15th-largest municipal electric utility in the state. It's one of 82 municipal electric utilities in Wisconsin, according to the city website.


Utility staff would test the 4,210 residential and commercial meters, and a contractor would check the 192 larger meters used in industry and the medical field, he said


According to city records, the first-year cost for contractors would be $13,920. The size of that cost in subsequent years would depend on how often outsourced meters are tested. Internal labor costs for testing residential and commercial meters would be about $27,051.


Buying two hand-held testing devices would be $12,600, according to city records.


A PSC spokesman said the agency does not have any problems with the plan or the utility's operations.



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