New electric utility improvements to detect power outages also provide the City of Leesburg with instant notification of improper tampering of meters.
The system will alert the utility when a customer’s electric meter is removed from the metal box typically attached to the exterior wall of a home or business. In some cases, meters are removed for unlawful electric theft. Electrical contractors will remove meters for repairs – sometimes without notifying the city or getting a required permit.
Either way, Leesburg utility workers typically will visit the site after receiving a meter-tamper notification. The city previously did not know when meters were removed until somebody witnessed it – an unreliable system that often led to significant electricity theft or dangerous safety hazards.
Improper meter removal without notification to the city is a violation of Leesburg ordinances with a fine of $275 plus the cost of damages.
To conduct work around electric meters, Leesburg strongly encourages customers to use licensed electrical contractors who must notify the city or obtain a permit before removing a meter for repairs.
Contractors are advised to call the city prior work that may require meter removal. For emergencies or repairs after business hours, call the Leesburg Electric Department at (352) 728-9830.
The electric utility’s single largest upgrade took four years to complete, providing improved service and reliability for customers. The utility replaced thousands of aging meters, buried miles of overhead power lines and integrated an automated meter-data management system.
Improved coordination across the electric distribution system has reduced the number of power disruptions. Far fewer customers are impacted by power outages, with the utility also providing quicker restoration times.
New equipment in certain areas allow for faster response to potential problems. Disruptions that once took hours to address now take minutes – in some cases, utility alerts may take only seconds.
Smarter communications among service components allow the utility network to better re-route power and minimize the number of impacted customers. Electric workers also get more accurate notifications to locate where disruptions started.
The result is better service for customers.
Weather-related power outages across the country cost an estimated $25 to $70 billion each year in lost business output and wages, spoiled inventory, delayed production, inconvenience and damage to the electric grid, according to a 2013 report from the U.S. Department of Energy. Up to $6 billion of electricity is lost nationally to theft – a tremendous impact that often is passed on to actual utility customers.
Leesburg is a progressive city of more than 20,000 residents in northwest Lake County. The city government serves twice as many people with its electric, gas, water, wastewater and fiber-optic public utilities. Leesburg also is a central hub for commerce, attracting 50,000 people to work each weekday. For more information, visit www.leesburgflorida.gov.