15 Sep 2014
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SoCal Gas to Update Walnut Meters

The new devices will eliminate the need for meter readers to visit homes.

SoCal Gas to Update Walnut Meters

State of the art gas meters are coming to the city of Walnut.

The Walnut City Council Wednesday night voted 5-0 to approve 14 locations for poles required to read gas meters remotely.

Before the vote, the council had a study session in which Southern California Gas Co. outlined its $1 billion plan to upgrade around six million existing natural gas meters in its service area with a wireless device by 2017, including for all customers living in Walnut.

The battery-powered wireless devices automatically read the meters and transmit the hourly gas usage information on a next day basis, according to Gas Co. officials.  The technology will eliminate the need for meter readers to make home visits.

Energy efficiency is one goal for the project, but there are others.

“We are looking at taking 1,000 cars off the road so that is going to help with air quality and it is also going to help with traffic,” said Tina Javid, a Gas Co. spokeswoman. “It’s going to help from a energy efficiency standpoint, an environmental standpoint, and also from a security standpoint…Once we automate this, we won’t be in backyards anymore.”

The device will be attached to the existing meters, unless the older ones are scheduled to be updated and need to be changed out, Javid said.  The 14 data collection units set up around the city will gather the use information remotely.

City staff and the Gas Co. worked together to come up with locations for the pole-anchored data collection units. 

The utility has the right to post the poles in the public right-of-way without the city’s permission due to a 2010 Public Utilities Commission ruling, but felt it was important to work with staff, Javid said.  That the location works, is in a safe place, and blends in as best as possible also matter, she said.

“It’s a pole. It is what it is. We certainly wish they were invisible. They’re not,” she said.  “Yes they have to be in the public right of way, we have the right to do it but we want to make sure it makes sense and that it works. “

Walnut Community Services Director Mary Rooney said the poles are being made to look like the city’s other light poles so they blend in well.

The planned sites include:

  • South side of Amar Road near Heidelberg Avenue
  • 19817 E. Country Hollow Drive just east of Skyline Drive
  • 20425 La Puente Road, in front of the Walnut Valley First Baptist Church
  • 20801 La Puente Road near Walnut Blessing Church
  • La Puente Road at San Vicente
  • 928 Silver Valley Trail
  • 19200 block of Felise Place at Creekside Drive
  • North Lemon Avenue near Hunters Hill
  • 19484 Empty Saddle Road
  • 900 block of Monica/Walnut Canyon
  • Snow Creek Park at the corner of East Snow Creek Drive and North Grand Avenue
  • 3200 block of Calle Baja Ave.
  • 1026 Heaton Moore Drive
  • 20531 Shadow Mountain Road

Mayor Mary Su, who lives in the Country Hollow area, asked if the pole set for that street could be moved out of the residential area.

Gas Co. representatives said they would take a look, but that limitations on how far the data collection devices can be from the advanced meters plays a key part.

“If you get too far outside of the 500-foot radius, you’re talking 15 or 16 poles,” said Paul Simonds, a Gas Co. spokeswoman.

Several of the locations are in residential areas.

The council also asked about emissions and how they compare to cell phone towers, something residents have expressed concerns about.  Simonds said the emissions for these units don’t come close to cell phone towers.

“Radio frequency from the radio itself is about a million time less than your cell phone,” he said.

The radio is off almost the entire time, he said, adding that the advanced meters turn on less than two minutes per year in total because they just click on and off a few of times a day.

The Gas Co. plans to start its outreach efforts shortly, starting with those who live closest to the data collection units.  Installation is expected to start in November 2013.

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