By NATHAN GREGORY
Starkville residents with smartphones will soon be able to use them to pay their electric bills and check their usage of electricity in real time.
Starkville Electric Department General Manager Terry Kemp said work is being done to launch the mobile application in the next month. The Starkville Board of Aldermen unanimously approved Tuesday night in its meeting to authorize implementation of the proposed technological improvements.
The service will be available through Southeastern Data Corporation, SED’s billing provider.
Kemp said work on developing the app has been months in the making.
“What we’re looking for is ways of doing business with Starkville Electric Department easier. We’ve seen a lot of trends with people using smartphones for payments. There are a lot of people on the go who want to use handheld devices to take care of their business,” Kemp said. “This allows them to log into their account, monitor their bills and make payments. We can also use that platform to send messages and alerts … to the customers.”
SED is in the process of installing a fiber optic cable system which will eventually allow employees to do automatic meter readings. Once this is implemented, Kemp said, the app will let customers see real time billing on their usage.
“We’re headed in that direction. Initially users will just be able to make their bill payments but we hope as we deploy our metering system that they can monitor real-time data,” he said. “This will give them the flexibility to manage their usage. I think it’s a bigger part of our customer interface as we move into the future.”
Kemp said as SED’s technology continues to evolve, he believes the application will follow suit and continue to offer new features over time to help customers manage their accounts more efficiently.
“There are other features that may be added. This comes in steps but is part of whole process looking at various options on technology,” he said. “We’re trying to take it a step at a time and build on it. We’ll notify all the customers and encourage them to look and see if this might be something that will help them.”
Mayor Parker Wiseman said once the app is launched it will offer more convenient options for customers.
“I’m excited about the possibilities this feature holds. It offers a way for our customers to more easily interact with our system and it does so with an innovative use of available technology,” he said.