The electric meter. A simple looking device at the center of a controversy after hundreds of LP&L customers received massive bills. The result, say officials, of a meter-reader neglecting his job.
"I've been doing it for 23 years," said Meter-Reader Buck Williams. He and his supervisor are doing damage control to steady the public's trust. "It's not an easy job, but it's a job that we need to do, and we need to do it correctly," said LP&L Official Guyle Roberson.
Buck Williams has done it so long, he uses binoculars. "It's 6-4-5-7-9," he says, glancing over a fence, 40 feet away from the meter. "What about people who say, 'He can't get that right, he's 40 feet away?," asked a reporter. "Well, we read by position," he replied.
Position? That's where the tiny indicator is pointed. But what if it's between numbers. "If this number is awfully close and you can't tell exactly what it is, you've got to go back to this number to determine what this one is," explained Roberson, pointing back and forth to the tiny dials.
But wait, there's more. The dials travel in opposite directions. Starting clockwise, then counter-clockwise, then clockwise, counter, the clockwise. Each dial affecting the one to it's right.
"Do you understand?," asked Roberson. "I'm confused," the reporter replied. "If I read this I would say 65748," ventured the reporter. "Ok, you over-read by 10,000 kilowatts," laughed Roberson. "How much is that in dollars?," asked the reporter. "About $5,000," smiled Roberson.
So don't be fooled by those five little dials. "It does take time to be able to read the numbers," said Williams.
If you are truly intent on reading your own electric meter, call LP&L at (806) 775-2509 , and they'll send you a flyer walking you through the process.