I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into when I signed on to accompany the guys from Greene’s Village Electric Department as they did their monthly meter reading. Especially when I found out they’d been inquiring about my footwear. Little did I know I’d be traipsing through back yards littered with “land mines” and entering cobwebbed basements. Lucky for me, I’d chosen to wear boots.
Greene is one of only two municipalities in Chenango County to have their own electric utility. Those lucky enough to live and work within the village limits pay roughly a third of what NYSEG customers in the rest of the county pay for their electric power.
Responsibility for providing service to the village’s roughly 1,200 residential and commercial customers falls to Electric Superintendent Larri Leet, Linesman Kurt Davis and Apprentice Linesman Jeff Livingston.
Kurt and Jeff handle the meter readings each month. Kurt, who has been a linesman for 6 years, has the easy job. While he reads the vast majority of the village’s meters, he gets to use a handheld device called an I-Tron which takes the reading electronically. He barely even has to get out of his truck. He just trolls along pushing a button and makes sure all of the necessary information is recorded. He’s been doing it so long that he knows all the “hot spots,” where he can read 30 to 40 meters from one location.
Of course, it hasn’t always been that way. Kurt told me that when he first started on the job, reading meters took three people a day and a half. Now, he and Jeff are finished before lunch. Even with me tagging along.
The first part of my morning, I spent riding around with Kurt. I have to tell you, reading meters the high-tech way is not exactly exciting. Especially since Kurt wouldn’t let me even push the little button on the I-Tron. Thankfully, he had plenty of stories to keep me entertained. He regaled me with tales of being chased by dogs and how they worked to keep the lights on during the flooding of 2006. (I think secretly he misses the old days.)