The days of the meter reader are numbered in most of Illinois. Commonwealth Edison is officially rolling out digital "smart" meters, wireless devices that relay information on electricity consumption directly to utilities. Installation has begun in Chicago's western suburbs, with all 4 million northern Illinois customers to get the devices by 2021. Ameren Illinois will begin switching to the meters next year, installing 780,0 by the end of 2019. It's part of a $3.2 billion plan to modernize the state's power grid to make it more efficient and reliable. Smart meters will record usage more accurately so bills won't have to be estimated and eventually will automatically alert utilities to outages. ComEd customers will pay an extra $3 monthly. Ameren says its average customer will pay another $3.40 annually.
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