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Oxford Electric Department offers ability to view outages across the city

The power goes out at your house one afternoon. It’s not storming. It’s too light outside to see if other homes are without power as well. Is this a problem just in your house or the entire neighborhood?

Oxford Electric Department customers can now find out about outages on their street or around Oxford thanks to the implementation of “smart meters,” or Automated Metering Infrastructure.

Outages across the city can be viewed in real time on OED’s website www.oxfordms.net/departments/electric-department. The map is refreshed every 30 seconds and viewers can see the city in its entirety or zoom in to see their street.

“We had that added to the city website about six months ago,” said OED Superintendent Rob Neely.

Neely said the addition of the AMI meters allows OED to receive real-time outage information and then pass that information onto their customers.

“In the past, we relied solely on phone calls from the customers for outage information,” Neely said. “Now, in addition to customer calls, we receive texts and emails from our outage notification system when an outage occurs.”

OED started switching out the old meters with the “smart meters” last year. Neely said about 99 percent of the older meters have been upgraded.

“There are a few instances where the meter bases or CT’s (current transformers) have to be changed out to accommodate the new meters and we are working on those last few now,” Neely said.

The AMI meters will give OED the ability to provide other services in the future that the department couldn’t do before the new meters, like a prepay service and customer portal where customers can view their daily electric use.

“We are currently reviewing meter data management systems that would provide a customer portal for our customers,” he said. “There are many options out there but want to select the system that provides the most value to our customers. But we are reviewing the options and plan to implement those systems in the future.”

Neely said OED is also looking to add a payment kiosk in the office lobby on McLarty Road.

“That will provide customers who don’t have internet access a 24-hour payment option,” he said.