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My Job: HECO Meter Reader

When Kit Gibo is uncertain about a dog, he keeps his distance and uses binoculars to read a meter.

Photo: David Croxford

Name: Christopher “Kit” Gibo

Job: Meter reader for Hawaiian Electric Co.

Experience: 14 years

Typical Day: HECO has 34 meter readers on Oahu. They meet daily at HECO’s downtown office at 7 a.m. to go over the day’s routes and review safety notes before all heading to the same area.

In a month, they will cover the entire island, moving as a team through neighborhoods. “It helps because not just one person knows the route,” Gibo says. “So if someone is sick or is on vacation, we can all cover.”

They all wear the same blue HECO shirt, pants and covered shoes, and bring binoculars and devices that look like oversize remote controls to record the readings. In one hand, they carry a stick made from a PVC pipe and topped with a tennis ball to ward off dogs, though some readers also carry dog treats.

They park in a neighborhood and walk their routes. One reader wore a pedometer and discovered he had walked eight miles in one day. “It’s good exercise,” Gibo says. “And we get to be outdoors.”

Hard Days: In the spring of 2006, Hawaii experienced 40 days of rain and flooding, but meter readers still walked their routes. “We had to bring two pairs of shoes (every day) and alternate them. That was no fun at all.”

Challenges: The job’s unpredictability is both appealing and challenging. Meters can be in difficult-to-reach places, such as laundry rooms or toward the back of the home. Some owners provide keys so the readers can get in, but, at other places, readers have to scale walls or use binoculars to read meters. Then there are the dogs. “Sometimes you have loose dogs and you have to go in the yard,” Gibo says. “That can be hard.”

Future: Kauai’s electric utility is installing “smart meters” in homes that eliminate the need for meter readers, but HECO says that won’t happen on Oahu until 2017 at the earliest.

Pay: HECO says the hourly pay rate for meter readers is in the low- to mid-$20s, depending on years of service.

Rewards: “The best part of the job is meeting people. I like that I’m pretty much on my own the whole day, just talking with people.”

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