The Public Service Commission has given Otter Tail Power Company permission to continue to use estimates on power use by its customers, rather than having to do meter readings.
Otter Tail suspended in-person meter readings because of COVID-19 concerns. The PSC action means the utility can continue to do this through September 30th.
PSC chairman Brian Kroshus said Otter Tail has done a great job, under the circumstances. But he said the pandemic is raising questions.
"How comfortable will people be, even after this subsides, with letting someone into their home?" Kroshus said.
Kroshus said the answer could be in installing “automated meters.”
"That does come with cost," Kroshus said. "But there are also savings associated with that."
Kroshus said savings could come because people would not have to be sent into the field to read meters.
"Hopefully, we don't experience another pandemic any time soon," Kroshus said. "But the world is changing."
Kroshus said MDU and Xcel are already using automated metering.