PALM SPRINGS – Southern California Gas Co.(SoCalGas)customers will soon be able to view their daily gas usage information online as SoCalGas begins installing advanced meters in the Coachella Valley. The SoCalGas upgrade to its natural gas metering system involves adding a small battery-powered communication device on existing residential and business customers’ meters throughout the Coachella Valley starting in May 2013.
The new device only turns on for a fraction of a second a day—a total of less than two minutes a year—to securely and safely send natural gas usage data from a customer’s home or business to SoCalGas customer centers. SoCalGas will make the usage information available for the customer to view online the next business day.
“SoCalGas is continually innovating and looking for ways to better serve our customers. We believe our advanced meter system will offer benefits for our customers, community and environment,” said Patrick Petersilia, director of the advanced meter project at SoCalGas. “Advanced meters will help customers monitor and adjust gas usage, helping families and local businesses save energy and money. They will also help reduce some 140,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year as we take service vehicles off the road every day.”
Customers will also enjoy greater privacy and security, no longer having to provide physical access to their property for monthly meter reading. Installations will take about 15 minutes and be completed by SoCalGas energy technicians during business hours. In most cases, customers will not need to be present and natural gas service won’t be interrupted. Natural gas bills will continue to be based on a monthly read of usage.
The advanced meter device cannot communicate with other appliances inside the home, turn on or turn off gas service and will only be active for a fraction of a second each day to read and send gas usage data. No personal information will be sent and usage data will be encrypted for added security. The battery life of the device is expected to be 20 years, with SoCalGas providing any needed maintenance. SoCalGas expects the advanced meter system will enable operational and environmental savings over its life—savings that will be passed along to customers in reduced overall rates.
In all, SoCalGas is planning to upgrade approximately six million natural gas meters with the new communication device, installing them throughout the SoCalGas service territory through 2017. SoCalGas is conducting a comprehensive information campaign starting with notifying customers several weeks before installations begin. SoCalGas will also work closely with local community-based organizations to help customers learn about the project. Customers can also visit SoCalGas’ website, socalgas.com/advanced or call (800) 427-2200 or (800) 342-4545 in Spanish.