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by CAROLYN PARSON/Monroe Journal Djournal.Com

ABERDEEN – The board of aldermen engaged in a discussion on the value of the Aberdeen Electric Department converting to an automated meter reading system during its Dec. 18 meeting. The city is acquiring the necessary information in order to make a decision whether to change the meter reading process.

Atwell Consulting Engineers representative Jeff Atwell presented the board with the process and benefits of converting to an automated meter reading system. “We recommend the Request For Proposal (RFP) method in picking a vendor instead of simply accepting bids,” Atwell said.

Without any cost to the city, the city will be able to review several proposals to understand exactly how the process will work.

By converting to an automated system, the electric department will be able to eliminate human error that frustrates both the department as well as customers. With the automated system, there will be no manual meter reading. Because the system is automated, it will continually send information so the department will know exactly when and where there is a problem.

Customers will also be able to view their utility usage in real time and be eligible for pre-payments. The meters will also be equipped with geographical position and will alert the department if a meter has been tampered with or removed.

“Its a good customer service and will cut out all human error,” Atwell said.

The board agreed to begin the early process of the RFP process. Because the process is long and detailed with many options, any decision on the conversion will not be made any time soon. Proposals from AMI providers are expected to be submitted in early to mid-February.

Also, because the first Tuesday in January 2013 is New Year’s Day, an official holiday, the next aldermen meeting will be Wednesday, Jan. 2 at 5 p.m.

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