MILTON — Milton may automate its gas and water meters, eliminating the need to have a technician regularly take readings.

Under the current system, a customer may not know about a water leak that began just after a reading until the next month’s reading, according to Milton Public Works Director George Riles.

“When you go to an automated system, depending on how many times you collect readings, information can be provided to customers so they can see variants in consumption patterns.”

The city employs four meter readers and a supervisor for the roughly 11,000 gas and water customers. Automating this function won’t mean unemployment for the readers, though.

“The personnel used on meter reading we plan to put in the utilities department on the installation crew to go and catch up on projects we’re behind on,” Riles said.

Manual readings will still be necessary, Riles said, if an automatic meter breaks down.

The city has been interested in automatic meter reading as early as 2006, according to Riles.

“We’ve been looking at it that long," he said. "The problem is the cost at the time didn’t make sense for the size of our utility.”

Over a decade later, the city is reevaluating available options.

Gulf Power Company implemented its Advanced Metering Infrastructure system in 2008 and completed it in 2012, according to Gulf Power Company Media Relations Supervisor Rick DelaHaya.

The benefits for Gulf Power Smart Meters include improved system maintenance, faster response time to outages, live outage maps, and easily accessible power-use information according to DelaHaya. In addition, customers have more privacy without a technician needing to visit the home.