The diversity of the Northland area is why the conglomeration of neighborhoods was chosen for an AEP Ohio demonstration project that calls for the installation of 110,000 “smart meters.”

The meters not only enable the company to bill customers for their power usage, but could allow customers to control the amount of their bill.

An AEP customer service representative gave a presentation on the “gridSMART” project at last week’s meeting of the Northland Community Council.

Virtually all of the Northland area was included in the pilot program that covers 150 square miles and encompasses parts of Columbus, Gahanna, Whitehall, Bexley, New Albany, Reynoldsburg, Westerville, Blacklick, Johnstown, Alexandria and Pataskala.

The mix of customers in that region of central Ohio, including residential, commercial and even industrial, as well as diverse demographics is why it was chosen for the test, according to Gregory S. Griffith of AEP Ohio.

The new meters, which replace some that have been in use for up to 70 years, have two-way communication abilities that were not even dreamt of a decade ago, Griffith told the NCC members. The digital meters have radio transmitters that send signals to receivers on utility poles, which then send information to AEP Ohio over a secure Internet protocol network.

Among other things, the new meters are able to immediately pinpoint the location of outages to power company personnel.

“We’ll get the trucks right out there and we won’t have to look for it,” Griffith said.

The installation of the new meters, part of a $150-million project that includes $75-million in federal stimulus money, got under way in mid-December and will continue through March.

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