Smart meter installation complete for Blythewood, now coming to Winnsboro

BLYTHEWOOD – Blythewood’s Winnsboro water customers should soon have few complaints about their water bills and low water pressure.

Their meter readers have now been replaced with 1,600 smart (electronic) meters which should make billing consistent beginning with the next water bill…or at least the one after.

And because Winnsboro no longer purchases Columbia water, the water customers in Blythewood are seeing higher water pressure from their faucets.

Winnsboro Town Manager Jason Taylor was invited to meet with Cobblestone Park residents (Winnsboro water customers) Wednesday evening to update them on the changes they can expect from the new smart meters.

The smart meters will eliminate the need for traditional meter readers who, both Blythewood and Winnsboro residents have complained for years, didn’t regularly read the meters. Sporadic reading of meters and erstwhile billing led to water bills that were sometimes as high as $1,200 for a small home with only two occupants.

“It was critical for us to install a new system for reading and reporting water usage in a timely manner,” said Taylor, who became manager of the Town of Winnsboro last year.

“We’ve had a tough time keeping enough people on staff to read 300 meters a day. So we had complaint after complaint after complaint about our utility service and billing. We knew we had a problem,” Taylor said. “Now we have a solution.”

That solution is an AMI (Automatic Metering Infrastructure) system which consists of a new compact smart meter installed at the residence and another small piece of equipment attached to the smart meter that will transmit the meter reading every hour to antennas on the town’s water tower which in turn will send the data to the Town of Winnsboro’s billing office.

“Now that the $2 million system is installed and in use in Blythewood,” Taylor said, “we’re starting to move toward Winnsboro, where the meters will be installed not only for water customers but for 2,300 gas customers, sewer customers and, eventually, the 3,500 electric customers as we get into the town.”

The cost to install the smart meters in Winnsboro will be around $3.8 million, Taylor said.

“Because many of the Winnsboro customers have four meters, the project to replace all the meters with smart meters will take longer, perhaps as long as 18 months and be more expensive,” Taylor said.

“Initially we’ll have to identify all the meters, as we did in Blythewood,” he said. “We’ll count them all and see exactly what we have. We have them on our billing register but, still, we need to go out and physically locate everything.

“In Blythewood, we hired a company to do that for us,” he said. “There are fewer meters in Blythewood, and Blythewood is more compact, so it was quicker and easier to hire a company to do it. In Winnsboro we’ll do most of the locating of meters ourselves because, again, there are more meters in Winnsboro and they are more scattered, so it’s just more cost effective for us to do the location work in-house.”

Taylor also explained that as Winnsboro no longer purchases water from Columbia for its customers’ use, its water now all comes from Winnsboro tanks, which have a higher level of pressure. While the high pressure is nice, Taylor said it also produces more water through the faucet and can cause water bills to be slightly higher than a water service with low pressure.

“The Cobblestone community has also had concerns about some of their fire hydrant locations and things like that,” Taylor said. “I think we’ve had one fire hydrant there that has been hit a number of times, and we’re going to move it as they’ve requested. So it’s just a whole host of things like that – just kind of question and answer to address some of their concerns and bring them up to speed on the improvements we’ve made,” Taylor said.

Contact us: (803) 767-5711 | P.O. Box 675, Blythewood, SC 29016 | [email protected]