Lawrence residents won’t be the only ones benefiting from Westar Energy’s $40 million project to outfit every home in the city with meters that provide hour-by-hour data on energy usage.
While those outside of Lawrence won’t be seeing smart meters installed anytime soon, the infrastructure the Topeka-based utility is putting in place will improve service for all of its 680,000 customers.
That’s what Hal Jensen, director of Westar’s SmartStar program, told the Douglas County Commission on Wednesday.
Westar will spend $26 million — about two-thirds of the total project cost — on putting in place infrastructure that will enable it to one day provide smart meters for all of its service area. Even without the smart meters in place, those improvements will make it easier for Westar to spot fallen power lines and improve its meter data systems.
At the meeting, Jensen displayed the company’s soon to be launched SmartStar website, which takes information gathered from the smart meters and puts it online for customers to view.
Only customers connected to smart meters will be able to see their energy usage broken down in daily and hourly intervals, Jensen said. However by the end of 2011, the company expects all of its customers to be able to access a Web portal that contains how much their electricity bill is, the environmental impact of the energy they’ve used and tips on conserving energy.
“It may not have all the features (as smart meters), but all of that is still a significant improvement,” Jensen said.