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Meters being checked in Salem

Energy company to inspect outdoor meters in Salem starting today

SALEM – Residents in the Salem area need to be aware that workers from Wellington Energy have been contracted by FirstEnergy to conduct visual inspections of outdoor electric meters starting Monday, Mayor John Berlin said.

Berlin was notified about the project this week by Troy Rhoades of FirstEnergy, who was trying to get the information out to the communities involved, so residents know why people are looking at their meters.

The inspection of the electric meters is part of the preparation for grid modernization efforts set for 2020, which will include the installation of smart meters. Berlin said he was told the new smart meters will transmit usage data without anyone having to physically read the meter or ride around in a vehicle to capture the data.

“When there’s a power outage, they will know exactly what homes don’t have power,” he said.

Berlin said the Wellington Energy contractors will be driving white trucks marked with the company name and workers will wear brown uniforms and wear FirstEnergy badges with their photograph and name that also say Wellington Energy. The inspections may include photos taken of the meter and base.

Owners will not be notified ahead of time about the inspections. City Service/Safety Director Ken Kenst said they won’t be knocking on doors and they’ll be strictly looking at outdoor meters first.

According to material about the project provided to the mayor, once it is determined that a smart meter will be installed at an address, the owner will receive notification through the mail.

Key components of FirstEnergy’s grid modernization plan as described in the material include: investing more than $500 million over three years; installing 700,000 smart meters in the Ohio Edison, The Illuminating Company and Toledo Edison areas along with necessary supporting communications infrastructure and data management system; developing time-varying rates that give customers a chance to reduce their monthly bill by using energy during off-peak periods; installing automated equipment on at least 200 distribution lines to automatically isolate problems, prevent entire circuit lockouts and quickly restore power to customers; and also installing voltage regulating equipment on more than 200 circuits to provide energy efficiency benefits by reducing excessive voltage levels on the distribution grid.

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