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story.lead_photo.caption An current Entergy meter sits on the side of a downtown Magnolia building.

Entergy Arkansas is currently installing what it calls “advanced” meters on homes and businesses in Magnolia, the company said in a Tuesday statement.

Advanced metering will allow the company to identify outages more accurately, giving crews the ability to respond more quickly. The statement also claimed customer service representatives will now have access to more information with which to answer billing and service questions, while customers will have access to new online tools and detailed usage data that may help them manage their energy usage and potentially lower bills.

“We began installing the new advanced meters in January as part of the company’s vision for a smarter energy future,” said Michael Considine, vice president of customer service at Entergy Arkansas. “We are looking forward to our 700,000-plus customers having the new meters and enjoying the benefits through the new technology and tools.”

The company is notifying customers a few months in advance and then again a few weeks prior to installation.

“Before we install the meter, we will knock on the customer’s door to let them know we are there,” said Considine. “The installation usually takes about 15 minutes and may result in a loss of power for a few minutes. If there is no one home, the installer will upgrade the meter just as we handle meter exchanges today. If the installer cannot gain access to the meter, he or she will leave a door hanger with instructions for scheduling the upgrade.”

Once meters are installed, customers will receive additional communications on how to access the online energy usage information via their Entergy account. Benefits to the new meters include:

•New online tools to help better understand and manage energy usage more effectively, which can lead to energy usage reduction and potentially lower bills.

•No more waiting until the end of the month to review energy usage. Via online tools, customers can log into their account and view how much electricity has been used four to five hours earlier, shown in 15-minute increments.

•With access to better usage and account information, Entergy Arkansas can answer customers’ billing and service questions more efficiently.

•The company will have a clearer real-time picture of the power grid and how it is operating. Outages can be identified more accurately, so crews can make repairs more efficiently.

After a customer receives new meter, Entergy will continue to manually read their meter for a period of time to be sure the network communication system working properly, and the company is ready to transition over to automated metering. In some areas, that will be a couple of months and for others it could be more. Customers should be aware that a meter reader will continue to be in their yards even after the advanced meter is installed.

Customers can learn more about advanced meters by visiting energyfuturearkansas.com.

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