Georgia Power meter readers go high tech

Tucker, GA -- Move over trucks and vans. Georgia Power meter readers have a new lift in the field.

The utility`s Tucker field service representatives (FSRs) are the first in the state to test the Segway(TM) Human Transporter (HT) in actual field conditions. FSRs began Monday using the Segway HT, described as an electric-powered personal mobility device, as they move through neighborhoods to read customers` meters.

"Our goal is to assess whether the Segway HT can offer improvements in productivity and efficiency while making employees` jobs easier at the same time. We hope it will reduce workers` fatigue and increase their comfort," explained Don Still, electric transportation manager for Georgia Power.

This is the first test of the Segway HT by a private company in Georgia. The device, first introduced in December 2001, has been used for several months by city of Atlanta police at Hartsfield International Airport and is in constant use by Atlanta`s Ambassador Force.

"We will use the Segway Human Transporter on a number of different routes in the Tucker area over the next three months," said George Wilhite, field services supervisor. "This will give us an idea of how well it performs over different terrains and conditions."¨

The Segway HT will also be tested in several other metro Atlanta counties to develop a complete picture of its capabilities and benefits. For instance, it may reduce the need for gasoline-powered vehicles on some routes, thus decreasing emissions to the environment.

Georgia Power purchased two of the Segway HTs for evaluation in various types of work settings. "We also expect to showcase this technology and the results of our tests with customers who have an appropriate application for it," added Still. "We constantly look for partnership opportunities and ways to advance electric transportation technology."

Georgia Power is the largest subsidiary of Southern Company, one of the nation`s largest generators of electricity. The company is an investor-owned, tax-paying utility, serving customers in 57,000 of the state`s 59,000 square miles. Georgia Power`s rates are more than 15 percent below the national average and its 2 million customers are in all but six of Georgia`s 159 counties.