LP&L Answers Questions about the Meter Reading Process, Smart Meters

"We read everybody's meter one time a month..."

LUBBOCK, TX - “Does LP&L read our water and electric meters?” It's one of the most commonly asked questions from Lubbock residents. LP&L Field Services Manager said they read every meter every month. 

“I can definitely understand where people feel like their meter hasn't been read,” Cook said. “But you have to remember, it's in the alley, and there’s a lot of traffic in the alley. Those meters are not sealed. Debris gets in there, dust gets in there, when it rains, rainwater gets in there."
The meter readers in the field said they have steps they go through at every house: from spotting electric meters over the fences with binoculars, to cleaning the small portion of the meter they need to get a read with a spray bottle. They said it doesn't take long after they’re done, for dirt to cover up their work.  

“The meter reading staff...they take pride in their work,” Cook said.

"You know, it would be the same as me going up to them and saying, ‘What do you do for a living? And I tell them, ‘Well I don't believe you,’ you know,” Meter Reader Keith Brown said.

LP&L said they have a safeguard system to check for human error. 

 "If it is outside the range of the normal for that particular resident and that particular meter, it will give them a warning in the field,” Cook said. If they type in the read again and it still registers as outside the range, it will be sent to their high-low department. Then, a veteran meter reader will come back out to the home. 

"Right now they way we operate is a human being is walking down alleys looking over fences with a pair of binoculars,” Matt Rose of LP&L said. 

He said that’s why they're in the process of working on new technology with advanced meters. 

"Implementing advanced meters does eliminate much of that human error we see today," Rose said.  

They said it’s a long process. The first step is working on a new billing system, while reviewing proposals from "smart meter" vendors.   

 "It will allow them the ability to monitor their usage. The shouldn't have to wait till the end of the month and have a level of suspense as they open their bill,” Rose said. "Because folks want to absolutely verify that what they see on their bill is what they used." 

Customers said they think a change needs to be made. 

"I don't understand where these prices are coming from, or where these numbers are coming from because I don’t feel like they honestly read the meters," Customer Kylee Bennett said. "They'll say one month we are using 16k gallons of water, the next month we are using 1k gallon and we do absolutely nothing different."

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