Ameren Illinois plans to install about 780,000 advanced electric meters over the next 10 years, the company disclosed in a filing with the Illinois Commerce Commission.
The meters will be similar in size to current meters, but they'll be digital rather than analog, company spokesman Leigh Morris said. Instead of having dials that turn, the meters will have digital readouts.
Full-scale installation is expected to begin in 2014, Morris said. Within 10 years, it's expected that 62 percent of Ameren Illinois customers will have advanced meters, and within 15 years, it's hoped that all customers will have them, he said.
Residents will be notified before installation, Morris said. After the meters are installed, there will be no need for a meter reader to visit; the meter will be read remotely.
Advanced meters will support the option of buying power at hourly prices that are based on market prices. With the meters, customers can take part in "peak time rebate" programs that offer incentives to reduce power usage during times of high electric demand.
The meters will help electric dispatchers better pinpoint the location of outages, the utility said. The meters can also identify distribution line and transformer overload issues that can be corrected before an outage occurs.