If you are dealing with a faulty electric meter, you are not alone. Andrew Smith, executive director of the V.I. Water and Power Authority, told the Public Services Commission earlier this week that about 1,000 meters are breaking down each month in the territory.
WAPA has analyzed the failing system, according to Smith, and found the problem is a capacitor that deteriorates and then affects the communication mechanism.
Presently, when a meter fails, it is replaced with the same AMI model, but WAPA is working on a more permanent solution.
Julius Aubain, Chief Information Officer at WAPA, told the Source on Thursday that the authority is going out for a bid on replacing all the meters and the infrastructure that communicates readings to WAPA offices.
In 2013 the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded WAPA a $13 million loan for the installation of advanced metering infrastructure.
It was predicted that the project would be completed by the end of 2014. The project was expected to save WAPA more than $90 million over the next 10 years.
The project was nearing completion just before the hurricanes of 2017 struck.
In October of 2016, then WAPA Executive Director Julio Rhymer said more than 90 percent of the 60,000 old electric meters had been replaced with automatic meters, which did away with typical meter readers and estimated bills. Niel Vanterpool, manager of automation and operations, said at that time that the new meters will help WAPA address its overall operational efficiency, reduce energy theft, improve the billing process, and reduce line loss. He said the initial installation showed many places where WAPA was losing money through theft and faulty meters.
Smith told the PSC that the AMI system is presently functioning at 65 percent. He said the problems with meter readers include locked gates, potential traffic accidents, and dogs, with the one-meter reader being bitten last year. He added that the life of the capacitor should be 10 years and that replacement meters cost $150 each.