Summit Utilities, which serves more than 425,000 Arkansas natural gas customers, held the grand opening of a new state-of-the-art meter shop in Maumelle, a $3 million investment for the Colorado-based utility.
The 10,000-SF center will test 15,000 to 20,000 gas meters each year to accurately gage how much gas is being delivered to homes and businesses. The utility hired five new employees to staff the new facility, which aims to test customers’ gas meters quickly and cost-efficiently.
Since Summit’s acquisition of CenterPoint Energy in early 2022, the company has added more than 300 jobs in Arkansas.
The company also faced thousands of customer complaints over billing problems, and some customers have disputed their gas consumption numbers.
The Arkansas Public Service Commission ruled over the summer that Summit has largely fixed the billing problems. Gas companies in Arkansas do not profit from higher gas prices, which are simply passed on to customers. The commission approved rates for this winter reflecting much cheaper gas prices.
Before Summit built the Maumelle shop, meters from Arkansas and Oklahoma had to be sent to Houston for testing. Meters that passed the examination would then come back to Arkansas and Oklahoma for use. The Maumelle shop, in Summit’s Maumelle Training Center, broke ground in November 2022 and was completed this month.
“The new Maumelle Meter Shop will allow us to better serve our customers by having the ability to do meter testing in our own backyard,” said Micah Edwards, Summit’s director of measurement. “Customers will see a benefit because we can quickly test the meter if there are questions about its accuracy in serving their home.”
Spokesperson Stephanie Sharp told Arkansas Business that the utility identifies meters that need to be tested and pulled for customers’ homes and businesses. “Qualified Summit technicians replace the meter and send the meter to the shop for testing. If the meter meets our compliance requirements, it goes back into rotation.”
Overall, Summit entities serve about 625,000 customers and operate more than 23,400 miles of pipeline.