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SWL&P replaces meters

Superior Water, Light and Power's plan to replace analog meters with advanced digital meters takes a big step forward this month.

A wholly-owned subsidiary of ALLETE Inc., the Superior-based utility began installing the meters mid-April in the Billings Park area of Superior. The new meters give customers more control over energy and water use, and their bills, minimizing monthly visits to homes and businesses, and improving billing. Meter replacements continue through October in other neighborhoods.

The work is part of a five-year plan to deploy advanced metering infrastructure, commonly referred to as AMI. It's a reliable and proven technology that has been widely used across the country for nearly a decade.

SWL&P is installing the new meters in phases throughout its service territory. The first ones were installed in 2016, and more than 30,000 will be installed by the end of 2020. The advanced meters also improve safety and reliability through leak, outage and safety notifications that help SWL&P more quickly alert customers and restore service.

"We're excited for our customers to receive improved electric, gas, and water meters. These new meters will virtually eliminate the need for us to estimate a portion of our monthly billing, something we've historically had to rely on. The AMI project is a great service enhancement and we are excited to be able to offer it to our customers," said Rob Sandstrom, SWL&P manager customer excellence.

The new meters also open options for energy conservation and efficiency incentives that customers can't access with older meters.

"Customers will be able to see how they use electricity, natural gas and water in a way that helps them make well-informed decisions about their usage and potentially save energy and money," Sandstrom said.

Highlights of the project:

• Installation of about 14,000 AMI electric meters for homes, apartment buildings and businesses. SWL&P's goal is to replace all electric meters with AMI technology in 2017.

• Installation of about 2,500 AMI natural gas and water meters. Many of these meters are inside homes and appointments will be necessary to complete the upgrade. Affected customers will be notified about two weeks in advance.

• Because SWL&P provides electric, natural gas and water service, some customers will get as many as three new meters as part of the overall project.

• Contractors will wear SWL&P vests and carry SWL&P identification badges; their trucks will also have SWL&P signage. Upgrades will be completed during daytime hours weekdays with the potential for after-hours or weekend work as needed.

• SWL&P is partnering with Minnesota Power as an ALLETE affiliate to minimize operational and overhead costs. These cost savings are achieved through sharing information technology, communication infrastructure and administrative support functions.

For information, call (877) 642-2373 or visit www.swlp.com/meterupgrade.

"We're confident that customers will appreciate the next level of services this project will provide," said Deb Amberg, SWL&P president. "AMI technology will empower our customers with information, and by installing the new meters, we will improve how we deliver energy and water."

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