Kinston Public Services working on NexGrid technology

Kinston Public Services working on NexGrid technology

There will be a better way for customers to monitor electric and water usage to cut bills.

Kinston Public Services is looking to run a full deployment over the next 18 months of its NexGrid system, an electric grid which Kinston City Manager Tony Sears said will assist KPS customers in a multitude of ways.

“If you’ve ever driven a car with a meter for gas, you’ve played the game to see what affects the miles per gallon,” Sears said. “We want the same thing here, as customers look at efficient ways for energy consumption. You can have an energy hog on the system and don’t know it — in real time, you can see energy use and then make decisions from there. For example, you might have the temperature at 70 degrees but could be just as comfortable at 73, which would cut costs.

“It’s the same thing with water. Meters get read once a month and if there’s a leak in the sink or toilet, it could contribute to rising costs. What this will really do is put things in the hands of the customers and hopefully save them some money. We agree there’s a price issue and while we can’t change rates, what we can do is be progressive and find ways to help.”

The rollout will start in October, but Sears said KPS is easing in with the technology, putting it in several areas.

“Different meters read at different times and customers don’t need fluctuation in their bills,” Sears said. “We’re working on it and although everything’s taking longer, it’ll be a smoother transition.”

KPS Director Rhonda Barwick said the technology will also assist in response time.

“We have a 24-hour coverage system already and if something happens, we can determine the substation or customers will call, and we have a dispatcher on standby points,” Barwick said. “With the new system, we’ll have a map and meters, so the dispatcher can see the exact area and answer alerts directly to the area. With knowledge of the system, we can respond even quicker to issues.”

Barwick said there are other methods customers can take.

“A lot of people don’t understand how the temperature outside can affect things inside,” Barwick said. “Let’s say it’s 100 degrees — if you have the temperature at 72 degrees inside, it’s fighting the temperature outside to get to that level.  

"We also encourage people to change air filters, pull the blinds to keep the sun heating inside the house and working as efficiently as possible.”

Sears said customers won’t be caught off guard when the NexGrid  meters are installed. Although they will be free for all customers, Sears said there will be measures taken to notify the public.

“This won’t happen without knowledge,” Sears said. “We’ll work a week in advance and send doorhangers with contact numbers for citizens to voice their comments and concerns.”

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