The Chelan PUD conversion to digital, or smart meters is virtually complete, with 98.5 percent of the roughly 51,000 meters countywide having been swapped out. 

By comparison, 73 percent of residential meters in the nation are advanced meters, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The digital meters have eliminated the need for meter readers because power usage and other information are digitally sent back to the utility. 

Chelan PUD spokesperson Rachael Hansen says the change has led to more accurate billing. 

"There were certain times of year, particularly winter, where meters were inaccessible to our meter readers," said Hansen. "And so, we'd have to estimate usage and bills. And with these advanced meters, we don't have to do that anymore." 

Hansen also says the digital meters will eventually give customers quicker access to information such as high-use alerts, and outage notifications. 

"Eventually we'd like to send out those outage notifications by the way our customers want to be contacted, whether that's through text messaging, email, or phone call," Hansen said. 'So, those are in the works." 

The digital meters are currently able to automatically alert the PUD when a customer’s power goes out, which means faster response. Previously, the utility wouldn't know about an outage until the customer called in. 

A small fraction of Chelan PUD customers are skeptical of digital meters and have opted out of receiving them. The PUD is planning to reach out to those people individually. 

Customers who choose not to have an advanced meter will be charged a $25 monthly fee to help cover the cost of manual meter readings. 

The $15 million installation of advanced meters began about a year ago. The PUD hired the firm National Metering and Technical Services to replace about 1,000 meters a week.  

The change has been in the works since 2017. 

There are currently 551 customers, about 1.0 % who have not been contacted yet about getting their meters swapped out. 

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