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Smart technology gives Hermiston utility customers more knowledge

Hermiston customers can track hourly water and power usage.
Jade McDowell

East Oregonian

Published on January 26, 2018 3:51PM

Hermiston residents can download an app on their smartphones to monitor their water usage via the new “smart meters” installed by the city.

Staff photo by E.J. Harris

Hermiston residents can download an app on their smartphones to monitor their water usage via the new “smart meters” installed by the city.

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New meters installed by the city of Hermiston will help residents be smarter consumers of water and power.

While the city is just beginning to install new electrical meters around town, installation of new water meters is finished and customers can now track their water usage by the day, by the hour or even in 15 minute increments.

Assistant city manager Mark Morgan said while some customers might not care about monitoring their water usage more carefully, others may find it helpful to look at where their water is going. For example, when he did a test run of the app a few months ago, he was able to experiment with the timing of how he watered his lawn and reduce his bill.

“For those customers who are really sensitive to rate increases, this gives them the ability to track what they can do to decrease their own bills,” he said.

Customers will be able to create a variety of charts and graphs after logging into their account, such as a line graph showing daily water usage compared with the temperature for those days.

Morgan said the app can also help people spot potential leaks — if they notice all of the sudden they’re using three gallons of water per hour even when they’re asleep or not home, for example. Customers can set up their account to alert them to possible leaks or a pipe bursting, and city staff will also keep an eye out for irregularities and can potentially contact customers if it looks like something is wrong.

“It can’t hurt to have more data,” he said.

Morgan said some people might feel like their bill has gone up since their new meter was installed, but that is because the new meters chart usage 12 months out of the year. Under the old system, where meters had to be read by hand instead of the meter sending data remotely, the city just estimated water usage for winter months and then once the meter was read in the spring added any extra usage on to the next bill. Anyone who feels like their December bill was higher than last December’s will likely have a smaller March or April bill than usual, he said.

To view their detailed water usage information, customers can create a login on eyeonwater.com after inputting the account number found on their bill.

Hermiston Energy Services customers will be able to keep closer track of their electricity usage soon, too. Allegiant Energy Services, on behalf of HES, is installing new “smart” meters between now and the end of March. Once a customer receives a new meter their SmartHub payment portal they now use to pay bills and check their monthly usage will feature new data including usage by the day and by the hour.

HES general manager Nate Rivera said people will be able to spot patterns about what times of day their home uses the most electricity, although temperature outside does tend to have a large impact by determining how much the heating system or air conditioning runs.

Information has been sent out to HES customers about installation, and Rivera said when meters are installed in a neighborhood someone will go door to door to explain the installation to residents, and that there will be a few minutes without power during the switch.

Customers with questions about the new electrical meters can call 541-289-2000.

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Contact Jade McDowell at jmcdowell@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4536.



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