The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. is ready to replace electric meters on Tinian with new smart meters to reduce losses arising from obsolete meters.
In her presentation to the CUC board last week, CUC accounts and financial manager Betty Terlaje said they are just working on data information before they could begin replacing all single-phase electromechanical meters of residential and government accounts with the new smart meters on the entire island.
This comes soon after CUC completed the first phase of the CNMI Smart Grid Project to modernize the electric grid and meet the evolving energy demands of customers in the CNMI.
Phase 1 of the project, which began in April 2019, was completed last June. Its target completion was last May. Phase 1 included inspections and installations of 1,056 Nighthawk AMI smart meters in Dandan.
July was supposed to be target start of Phase 2 on Tinian.
After Tinian, there is also a plan to bring the project to Rota, Terlaje said.
Among the minor issues that CUC encountered in the first phase of the project was that there are those who are uncomfortable about using online capable meters like the elderly. Many, however, changed their minds, Terlaje said, after learning that they won’t need to wait in a long line at CUC to pay the cashier.
Other than a software issue, Terlaje assured that CUC is now ready for Phase 2 of the CNMI Smart Grid Project on the entire Tinian.
Phase 1 is the first of several phases. She said Dandan’s was a pilot program and that the decision was made to bring Phase 2 to Tinian after considering its distance to Saipan for troubleshooting issue and other factors like operations.
CUC executive director Gary P. Camacho said that, if there is any problem on Tinian, its proximity to Saipan would make it easier to access when they want to figure out those problems.
Camacho said the idea is also to bring the project to Rota so the people can just stay at home and load their meters and not have to drive all the way up to Sinapalo.
The smart meters are called Nighthawk Advanced Metering Infrastructure RDM 950/970.
Camacho said that CUC’s Power Division is right now working with CUC’s Billing Department to organize work orders for meter change out services of all residential and government accounts on Tinian.
Once all MCO work orders are good to go, the Power Division will mobilize a team of meter inspectors to travel to Tinian and begin the field work necessary to complete the second phase of the project.
Camacho informed the CUC board last July that the first phase was completed last June 14 as CUC efforts were diverted to Super Typhoon Yutu restoration efforts and work on the project only resumed last May.
The project is intended to eliminate the need for manual meter reading, reduce vehicle/fleet fuel use, and reduce manual disconnections and reconnections, among other benefits.
CUC currently has 3,000 Nighthawk AMI meters in its inventory.