Council approves $1.4 million for ‘smart’ meters

By on September 8, 2016

20160908_113214Ephrata Borough Council has voted to get ‘smart.’

Council on Monday approved the first $150,000 installment for nearly 7,000 smart electric meters that are expected to be placed within a decade at total cost of $1.4 million.

The first batch of meters, which should be in place within a year, offer far more function than the current meters they’ll replace.

Officials say the new meters will actually increase cash-flow.

The initial investment, with contract partner AMP Ohio’s new Advance Metering Infrastructure Program, takes advantage of AMP’s buying power and lower interest rates, locked in at 1.4 percent and is expected to $140,000 per year, Tom Natarian, borough director of operations said.

Cost savings are projected to be $150,000 per year, he said.

Those savings would then be returned directly back to borough electric customers by way of the power cost adjustment (PCA) which is reflected monthly on the borough electric bills.

“This system will offer the borough so much more,” Natarian said. “This is its own stand-alone network infrastructure with so much built in functionality.”

The new complex system will eventually monitor street light use, establish where power outages have occurred and automatically re-route power from one sub-station to another, monitor power usage during peak and non-peak periods of the day. It can also read road temperatures and conditions.

The system will eventually allow the borough’s electric customers to log into the system, monitor personal power usage remotely through personal electronic devices.

“This is a private, secure distribution network that will help us be able to better manage our power resource,” added Natarian.

Ephrata Borough will be cutting edge when it comes to the installation of the SMART meters. Natarian said that with the borough’s membership in AMP-Ohio, it is the first municipality among its 1,134 customers to use the ‘smart’ system.

“That’s just one of the benefits of our membership in AMP-Ohio,” added Natarian.

New meters are expected to arrive within the first quarter of 2017 and will begin being installed in March or April.

In other borough news, council member Vic Richard asked that the proposal to renew the Ephrata Area Repeaters Association lease for $700 per year for the next ten years be revisited in favor of a new rate of $1.00 per year for the next ten years.

“I think we should rethink the lease for the repeaters,” said Richard. “With all that they do for the community, they put the tower up, they maintain and upgrade it. All they do to help maintain the quality of life costs the borough absolutely nothing.”

The motion for the new lease will be changed and brought back for the vote of the full council at next Monday’s Regular Council Meeting. The Repeaters Association offer ham radio and other radio tower services in the event there is an emergency which might affect traditional lines of communication.

Council will also consider a motion at next Monday’s regular session to approve an un-allocated expenditure of $21,000 to cover the temporary dehumidification of the Ephrata Public Library with portable units brought in by Complete Restoration. This was made necessary not only due to the recent excessive heat and humidity but also due to the on-going challenges with the mechanical aspects of the building’s HVAC system.

Mayor Ralph Mowen tried to get a better picture of what the entire season of dehumidification might cost. He noted that since the new HVAC system was installed in 2012 it had not worked properly.

“When this system was done in 2012 it was not done correctly,” said Mowen. “The library has been here several times telling us that it was not done right and we keep kicking the can down the lane. It’s time we step up and get it fixed right. In my expertise in security in the bank, if I had an on-going problem I would call in other experts.”

Borough manager Bob Thompson, however disagreed.

“I disagree with that comment Mr. Mayor,” Thompson said. “We are not experts in HVAC but we have called them back and are looking into shortfalls in the system. You have to be mindful that you are dealing with warranties. But, to say we did nothing and were not mindful of the program is not accurate.”

“But we could have done more,” concluded Mowen.

Dave Weaver from Wellspan Community Hospital and Steve Gergely of Harbor Engineering were present to discuss a very preliminary plan to add more hospital parking to the corner of Lancaster Avenue and Martin Avenue. Council member Vic Richard questioned Weaver on the possibility of replacing acres of sprawling parking lots with perhaps more vertical parking garages, citing what he felt was the recommendation of county zoning and planning leaders. Weaver was unaware of any suggestions but did say some parking studies were being considered which looked at a number of solutions to the problem.

  • Ephrata Police Chief William Harvey reminded everyone that September is National Preparedness Month. As such, he suggested that everyone take the time to review safety plans, supplies and equipment for use in the event of any emergency, whether that be a natural disaster or man-made.

For additional information on Ephrata Borough, please visit their website at Gary P. Klinger welcomes your feedback at


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