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Smart Meters May Speed Pepco Response Time

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By Rebecca Blatt

Utility companies have restored power to thousands of customers, after high winds whipped across the region this week, but new technology may expedite that process in the future.

The technology is called advanced metering infrastructure -- also known as a "smart meter" program. D.C. utility regulators gave Pepco the go-ahead this month to offer them to customers.

Clay Anderson, a Pepco spokesman, says the meters will alert the company when individual customers lose power. Right now, Pepco relies on customer phone calls to pinpoint who is affected.

"We will have that information and we will be able to restore that power to your home, without you having to go home, realize the power's out, make a call," says Anderson.

The smart meters will also provide customers with more information -- how much power they use at different times of the day, for instance. And they allow customers to make changes remotely, including using blackberries to adjust thermostats.

Anderson says the company will begin implementing the program in early 2010. Federal stimulus funds will help reduce the cost to customers.

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