Salt River Project’s Infrastructure Upgrade Forms Part of its Customer Satisfaction Drive

Utility Salt River Project has recruited Landis+Gyr to carry out a US$185 million upgrade of its metering infrastructure and prepay technology.
Published: Thu 20 Mar 2014

Salt River Project, the umbrella name for two separate entities: the Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District, has signed a long-term agreement with Landis+Gyr to update and expand its advanced metering and prepay technology. The upgrade will occur in a phased, 10-year installation across their service territory.

Describing itself as the third-largest public power utility in the US, Salt River Project provides electricity services to about 985,000 in central Arizona, including the Phoenix metropolitan area.

The utility will be deploying Landis+Gyr’s Gridstream® RF network to support ongoing improvements to the technology used by its 142,000 prepay customers.

Program gives customers control

Salt River Project’s M-Power program is the largest electric prepayment program in the US and has been in operation since 1993. The voluntary program helps customers manage their energy budget and drives high levels of customer satisfaction.

Once the network foundation is established and the prepayment revision has been completed, the utility will start installing over one million Landis+Gyr E350 AX-SD meters to provide both credit and prepayment options for all their customers.

This flexible approach to customer billing requirements makes this project one of the most unique in the industry and a first within the US.

Prepayment options expanded

Salt River Project has a huge prepayment program that customers seem to love. Even though their power can be cut off just days after running out of credit, an increasing number of Phoenix area residents are signed up, saving themselves an average of 12% on their utility bills.

Ninety-five percent of Salt River Project’s prepaid customers say they have more control over what they spend on home energy costs.

Other utilities continually look to Salt River Project as a successful model for pre-pay systems. The utility stays closely connected to its customers via an online market research panel to constantly assess the success of its programs.

In addition to this, they make the programs voluntary and easy to sign up for; the programs are designed to focus on consumer needs; prepay is offered to everyone regardless of financial standing and they don’t levy a service charge per payment regardless of frequency or amount of payment; and they help customers choose the appropriate program to suit their needs.

Salt River project’s overall customer satisfaction index is 713 out of a possible 1,000 points in the 2014 Electric Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study. The firm ranks highest in the West .

“Our M-Power program has been very successful and we will now have the tools to expand prepayment options to our entire customer base in coming years,” said Michael Mendonca, Senior Director of Revenue Cycle Services at Salt River Project. “This agreement with Landis+Gyr will provide Salt River Project with the technology to deliver our customers convenient access to a broader range of information and support more payment choices than our existing solution. It will be a significant step forward for us.”