College Station Utilities

CSU begins installation of new meters in November

By Glenn Gavit, Assistant Director of Electric Utilities

In November, College Station Utilities’ contractor will begin installing advanced electric meters throughout its system to provide detailed usage and outage information for customers and the utility. Installing the new meters for our 42,000 customers will be done in phases and will take about a year to complete.

We’ll send postcards to residents as the scheduled installation approaches in their area. The contractor’s employees — easily identified by their blue shirts with a company logo — will do their best to let you know when they enter your property. The on-site work only takes a few minutes as they exchange the meters.

Use of Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) has doubled since 2010, with more than half the nation’s electricity customer accounts using the upgraded meters. The advanced meters record energy usage just like traditional meters but send and receive the data through wireless communications technology. 

AMI provides remote meter reading and reduces — and even eliminates — the need for electric personnel to regularly enter your property. Since many CSU meters are in backyards behind a fence, the change will enhance our customers’ and employees’ safety and security. 

With so many people moving to College Station from around the country and world, AMI’s benefits have become an expectation. Many of our customers come from places where they have easy access to advanced metering data, such as detailed usage information. AMI allows customers to analyze their usage patterns, pinpoint the causes of high bills, and identify ways to save energy and trim their monthly electric costs. 

The new AMI meters will help CSU generate more accurate bills by reducing human error, monitoring system performance, controlling energy theft, providing enhanced reliability, responding faster to outages, ensuring power is quickly restored. Some College Station residents are served by BTU and have had AMI for nearly a decade.

AMI also provides more efficient power connections and disconnections. During the peak student move-in and move-out times during Texas A&M and Blinn’s fall and spring semesters, CSU handles about 70,000 connect and disconnect requests. 

Since the existing process involves physically connecting or disconnecting service, that simple service can take several days. CSU will soon be able to service those customers remotely, significantly improving our customer service capabilities. It will also provide substantial savings and reduce the city’s carbon footprint by reducing the miles our service trucks log.

For more information, go to cstx.gov/electricmeters or call 888-502-1845. 

 


About the Blogger

Assistant Director of Electric Utility Glenn Gavit is in his second year with CSU. He previously worked as an engineer for Shermco Industries in Dallas, designing, installing, commissioning, and troubleshooting electrical systems across the nation, focusing on plants and major industrial environments. Originally from Corpus Christi, he earned bachelor’s degrees in physics and mathematics from Texas Lutheran in 2007. Gavit received a third bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Texas A&M-Kingsville in 2016.


 

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Public power week highlights reliability, service

By Pat McIntyre, CSU Energy Coordinator

The City of College Station is recognizing the dedicated professionals of College Station Utilities and Utility Customer Service during Public Power Week, which runs through Saturday.

The 34th anniversary of Public Power Week is a nationwide celebration of public power’s value to its communities. The event honors the thousands of men and women across the United States who provide and maintain the electrical grid infrastructure and services known as public power. More than 5.1 million Texans are served by community-owned power.

College Station is one of 72 publicly owned utilities in Texas and is one of only four to receive national recognition as a Diamond-Level Reliable Public Power Provider from the American Public Power Association, which coordinates Public Power Week. Utilities receiving the designation are among the nation’s best in reliability, safety, workforce development, and system improvement.

The more than 100 employees at CSU and Utility Customer Service are the foundation for the reliable service and electric system infrastructure that allows our community to develop and grow. Programs available in College Station through our electric utility include Energy Back II A/C Rebate, LED Lighting Rebate, Connected Thermostat Rebate, Commercial LED Rebate, and free energy audits.

The American Public Power Association represents not-for-profit, community-owned electric utilities that power homes, businesses, and streets in more than 2,000 towns and cities, serving 49 million Americans. With no divided loyalties, these utilities focus on a single mission: providing reliable electricity to the communities they serve while protecting the environment.

As we observe Public Power Week, we thank the employees at College Station Utilities and Utility Customer Service for their hard work, professionalism and the invaluable service they provide to our community every day.

#publicpowerweek


0000072EPAbout the Blogger

Patrick McIntyre is energy coordinator for College Station Utilities and is responsible for the energy conservation and key accounts programs. Pat joined CSU as a key accounts representative in 2009. He previously worked for 17 years in the manufacturing sector and eight years as a consultant with the Texas Engineering Extension Service. Pat graduated from Texas A&M in 1982 with B.S. in Industrial Distribution and has lived in the area since 1984.

 


 

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Metallic balloons and power lines don’t mix

black and red metal rod

By Patrick McIntyre, CSU Energy Coordinator

With social distancing in place because of the COVID-19 outbreak, people are finding new ways to celebrate events and milestones without the typical parties and get-togethers.

And what’s a birthday or graduation without balloons, especially those shiny, helium-filled foil balloons that are all the rage. They are called Mylar balloons and come in various shapes and sizes and can represent numbers and letters.

Unfortunately, they can also be hazardous.

When released, these festive balloons can get caught in high voltage power lines. The metallic coating conducts electricity and causes short circuits when entangled in power lines.

Stray Mylar balloons entangled in overhead lines in the last week caused two electric outages for hundreds of College Station residents. Such disruptions can cover a large area for two hours or more while we clear the balloons and repair damaged equipment.

Power outages not only inconvenience our customers, but they also jeopardize public safety and cause lost revenue for businesses. Two years ago, a stray balloon caused an outage and lengthy delay during a Major League Baseball game at Dodger Stadium.

This recent report by an Arizona news station illustrates the issue:

College Station Utilities offers five tips to help prevent outages when celebrating birthdays, graduations and other events with Mylar balloons:

  1. Never allow Mylar balloons to be released outside. Keep the balloons indoors when possible.
  2. Make sure Mylar balloons are securely tied to a weight heavy enough to keep them from floating away. Never remove the weight.
  3. Don’t bundle Mylar balloons together.
  4. When your celebration is over, cut the balloons up and throw them away. Even a semi-inflated balloon can become airborne.
  5. Never try to retrieve anything that gets caught in a power line.

To report objects caught in power lines, call 911. To report outages, call 855-528-4278, and have your account number ready.

 


0000072EPAbout the Blogger

CSU Energy Coordinator Patrick McIntyre is responsible for energy conservation and key accounts programs. Pat joined CSU as a key accounts representative in 2009. He previously worked for 17 years in the manufacturing sector and eight years as a consultant with the Texas Engineering Extension Service. Pat graduated from Texas A&M in 1982 with B.S. in Industrial Distribution and has lived in the area since 1984.

 


 

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Electric lineman work to keep our power flowing

By Patrick McIntyre, CSU Energy Coordinator

Since the invention of the Edison lightbulb in 1879, electric linemen have been keeping the nation energized. More than 227,000 men and women install and maintain the nation’s nine million miles of electric grid that meet our power needs, including the 28 who serve at College Station Utilities.

That’s why the United States Congress and the City of College Station are recognizing Saturday as National Lineman Appreciation Day (#ThankaLineman) as a way to honor the hard-working folks who protect public safety and energize our economy by keeping the power on.

Linemen are also an essential part of the first-responder community alongside police officers, firefighters, and paramedics. In most cases, other first responders can see their emergency issues, but electricity is invisible, which makes for an extremely hazardous environment during storms. While big events require all-hands-on-deck, most routine trouble calls are handled by two-person crews.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, being an electric lineman ranks among the 10 most dangerous jobs. Unlike most occupations, linemen spend a large part of their working lives well above the ground maintaining electrical infrastructure. Our linemen work with voltages as high as 138,000 volts and as low as the standard 120-volt power in your home.

College Station Utilities is also committed to the construction of reliable, underground utilities. Our electric grid is nearly 60 percent underground, which requires our electric personnel to be knowledgeable in both overhead and underground systems.

Please join us in thanking the highly skilled and dedicated linemen who work all hours of the day, often in hazardous conditions, to keep your lights on.

 


0000072EPAbout the Blogger

Patrick McIntyre is energy coordinator for College Station Utilities and is responsible for the energy conservation and key accounts programs. Pat joined CSU as a key accounts representative in 2009. He previously worked for 17 years in the manufacturing sector and eight years as a consultant with the Texas Engineering Extension Service. Pat graduated from Texas A&M in 1982 with B.S. in Industrial Distribution and has lived in the area since 1984.

 


 

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10 ways to trim your household energy costs

By Patrick McIntyre, CSU Energy Coordinator

With College Station residents sheltering in place during the COVID-19 outbreak, households are using substantially more electricity. 

Here are 10 ways you can trim your electric costs:

  1. The most essential step is raising your thermostat setting. Just two degrees above your usual setting can cut your cooling costs by five percent. 
  2. Use ceiling fans rather than air conditioning as much as possible. Fans use about as much energy as a light bulb.
  3. Turn off lights, fans, and electronics when a room is unoccupied.
  4. Replace incandescent and CFL lighting with low-wattage LEDs, which use 50-90 percent less energy.
  5. Do your laundry in the evening or at night when temperatures are cooler.
  6. Use cold water to wash your clothes.
  7. Run your dishwasher only when you have a full load.
  8. Check your air conditioning filter and replace it frequently. Dirty filters can increase costs by about 20 percent.
  9. Consider a Wi-Fi programmable thermostat, which allows precise control of your cooling system.
  10. 10. Take advantage of our Energy Back IIResidential LED Lighting, and Connected Thermostat rebates.

Report power outages, water line breaks, wastewater spills, and backups, and other electric, water, or wastewater problems to 855.528.4278 — and have your CSU account number ready. Our dispatch operates 24 hours a day. 

Despite the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on our community, College Station Utilities remains committed to providing you with reliable electric power while taking the proper precautions to protect the health and safety of our staff.

For more information on how to reduce your electricity costs, contact me at pmcintyre@cstx.gov or 979-764-6343. For billing questions, contact Utility Customer Service at 979-764-3535. 

 


0000072EPAbout the Blogger

Patrick McIntyre is the energy coordinator for College Station Utilities and is responsible for energy conservation and key accounts programs. Pat joined CSU as a key accounts representative in 2009. He previously worked for 17 years in the manufacturing sector and eight years as a consultant with the Texas Engineering Extension Service. Pat graduated from Texas A&M in 1982 with B.S. in Industrial Distribution and has lived in the area since 1984.

 


 

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Sales tax holiday can save you money — and water

By Jennifer Nations, Water Resource Coordinator

The Memorial Day weekend in the Brazos Valley will be busy with the Texas Weekend of Remembrance, high school graduations, dance recitals, athletic events, and more.

The return of sunny, warm weather also means it an ideal time to make your home and landscape more efficient. If you upgrade your irrigation controller, install a rain sensor, and add mulch to your drought-tolerant plants this weekend, it’s all tax-free.

The Texas Comptroller’s Office has declared a sales tax holiday from Saturday through Monday on the purchase of certain water– and energy-efficient products. This year marks the third time the tax holiday has provided an incentive for Texans to conserve our limited water resources.

Eligible tax-exempt items are things that can be used to conserve or retain groundwater, recharge water tables, or decrease ambient air temperature to reduce water lost to evaporation. Among the eligible items are:

  • WaterSense-labeled products.
  • Soaker or drip-irrigation hoses.
  • Moisture control for sprinkler or irrigation systems (rain shutoff switches or soil moisture sensors).
  • Rain barrels (rainwater harvesting equipment is always exempt from state sales tax).
  • Permeable ground cover surfaces that allow water to reach underground basins, aquifers or water collection points.
  • Plants, trees, and grasses.
  • Soil and compost.

WaterSense-labeled products go through an independent, third-party certification process and meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s specifications for efficiency and performance. The beauty is having water-saving products in your home or business that deliver exceptional performance and savings on water bills for years to come.

For more information, visit the Texas Comptroller’s Water-Efficient Products Sales Tax Holiday webpage.

Stay cool this weekend and get ready for water and energy savings!

 


About the Blogger

Jennifer Nations has been the City of College Station’s water resource coordinator since 1999 after two years as BVSWMA’s environmental compliance officer. She’s also chair of the Water Conservation and Reuse Division for the Texas Section of the American Water Works Association. A native of Fremont, Calif., Jennifer earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental & resource science from UC-Davis in 1995 and a master’s degree in water management & hydrologic science from Texas A&M in 2016.


 

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