[time-nuts] Remotely read power meters

Perry Sandeen sandeenpa at yahoo.com
Thu Jun 30 22:53:41 EDT 2011


Leaving all the conspiracy assumptions aside,  there is a very practical cost savings to the user.

Let me explain by this example.  We lived in Custer county CO for several years.  There are about 3,500 people spread out in the area. Our average electric bill was around $150 a month and we had remotely read meters.  IIRC they were the spinning dial type FWIW.

If the Co-Op had to hire two meter readers the math (ROUGHLY) goes a bit like this.  Assume a very modest wage of $10 per hour.  Adding the burden factor brings the employee cost to $25 per hour.  Then because of the rural gravel roads and snow, two quality 4 WHD vehicles are needed.  This would be at least a $80,000 up-front expense.  One has to add to that fuel, maintenance, insurance, and depreciation.  In this rugged area that would run a dollar per mile.

Knowing the area, a meter reader would only be able to read 6 meters an hour.  It would be fair to say that there is on average 2 miles between meters round trip.  The reason for this number is there are places where there are several customers within a few hundreds of yards of each other.

There are about 1,400 households.  So 1,400 divided by 6 equals 233 man hours.

So we have 233 man-hours at $25/hr. That is $5,825 per month or $69,900 for salaries.  

Then add 1,400 households times 2 miles times 12 months.  This comes to $33,600.

The total is $103,500 to read 1,400 meters once a month for a year.

For the sake of this exercise ASS-U-ME that the cost of a remotely read meter installed, with all the computers and software came to $1,000 per unit. (I believe I’m wildly on the high side.)  With 1,400 meters this comes to $1,400,000.

Your payback comes in 10 years.  From my experience, I’ve never heard of one warring out.

So from a purely economic reasons they made sense where I used to live.  As for other areas they are case specific.

Any additional economic data or corrections are welcomed. 



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