DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Alliant Energy is installing smart meters in Dubuque and Oelwein.
The meters look very similar to traditional ones, but they work very differently.
Justin Foss, a spokesperson with Alliant, says the biggest improvement customers will notice is that the smart meters are able to detect and alert Alliant wherever a power outage is.
That means customers will no longer have to call in to notify Alliant when their power goes out.
He said, "the meter will send a ping back to us and we’ll know exactly where the cause of the outage is. So that means our crews aren’t having to traps through the middle of backyards in midnight in storms, to try and find the issue. They’ll know very quickly where it is."
Customer Mary Lange is looking forward to this the most.
"I think it's a good idea because when the power goes out you call down and it's busy, busy, busy, busy," she said.
Foss says smart meters will help them understand how the power grid is being used overall.
It can tell them how much energy a customer is using and at what time, which then lets them know what equipment they need in that area.
"If you use a whole lot at once you need bigger wires, you need bigger equipment to handle all that at once. But if you use the same amount, you just spread it out over time, you don't need as big of equipment," Foss said.
And in the future, they hope to develop an app.
He isn't sure what it would do, but says tracking your energy use in a month is a possibility.
Foss said, "maybe some customers would appreciate having an alert that would come to them in the middle of the month and say, 'hey, you're on track to use a lot of energy this month, just so you're aware.'">
Foss adds that they send out postcards and letters in the mail to notify homeowners an Alliant worker will be visiting their house to make the change.
They also call your house.
He says it's a very quick procedure.
"You're going to lose electricity for maybe about 10 seconds, maybe 30 seconds, that's really all it is," he said.
There have been some complaints around the country documented about smart meters causing electricity bills to rise after their installation.
Foss says the smart meters shouldn't impact customers' bills, but if you should notice something different about your bill, call Alliant.