Have you missed your meter reader lately? The City of Nicholasville's Meter Department is still out in force, but they are moving down the streets a good bit faster these days, thanks to help from advances in meter technology.
New electric meters can be read from the street, thanks to the use of radio waves that often can be received as far as a block away. The updated meters are being installed in new homes and offices and wherever old ones have to be replaced.
About half of the city's electric meters are new and about two thirds of the water customers' meters have been replaced with updated versions. The remaining will be replaced soon.
The result is less intrusion for residents (and their pets) and greater efficiency for the City.
"We have cut our time in the field to about 15 days a month, and only half of each day is spent reading meters, the other half is spent doing maintenance, installations and other work orders." Meter Department Superintendent David Teater said.
The Meter Department, which has 11 full-time employees, plays an important role for the city and its utility customers. The department's monthly rounds result in about $17 million in utility service payments.
The department also reads water meters in several areas that are served by other water companies. This is done for sewer billing purposes only and is not part of the meter updating process. In addition to the city's meters, the department gathers readings from a water district purchased by the city several years ago that stretches from Fayette County to the river on south KY 27 and includes everything from mobile home parks to horse farms.
In addition to reading meters, department personnel complete for 50 - 75 work orders daily. This includes stopping and starting service for people who are moving, installing new meters, and cutting off services. For installations of larger meters, such as commercial meters that require a bucket truck or a backhoe, the Meter Department works closely with the city's Water and Electric departments, whose personnel provide support and assistance.
About 200 meters need to be checked each month due to high or low usage, which is about one percent of the city's more than 20,000 meters. Additionally, about 400 meters are shut off each month due to non-payment.
Theft of services, and in some cases equipment, is a growing problem. Sometimes people illegally tap into electric power, which can be extremely dangerous to children or anyone who may inadvertently come into contact with exposed wiring. The City of Nicholasville works closely with the police whenever they learn of such fraud and have had several recent convictions that resulted in fines. The public is encouraged to report concerns regarding inappropriate use of electric or water service.
Likewise, Meter Department personnel, who wear uniforms and drive city trucks, get to know the neighborhoods their routes are in and keep an eye out and report any irregular activities they might encounter.
So, even if you don't see them as much as in the past, the Meter Department is hard at work and personnel are available to ensure your water and electric meters are working for you.
Have an emergency? An after-hours phone is always manned, so residents may call anytime they have a need for utility related services, such as a concern with a meter: 859-887-5447.