INDEPENDENCE, Ore. (KOIN) — Fifteen minutes southwest of Salem sits Independence, Oregon: population 8,600. It’s a quaint and unassuming town that’s quietly becoming Oregon’s first smart city.
“I think Independence really is kind of the city of the future, a small town but high technology,” resident Ben Kreger said.
Kreger is a graphic designer and comic book publisher – jobs you could do anywhere – but he set up shop in Indepedence.
The city even commissioned Kreger to drive that point home with a comic book pamphlet called ‘Test Drive’ that paints Independence as pioneers of the future.
Wednesday morning, the future came to his backyard, in the form of a smart meter from Pacific Power.
“I’ve always questioned are my kilowatts correct, and so these new meters will be interesting to see how much of a difference there is,” he says.
The new meters will provide more detailed updates on power usage that customers can use to maximize their energy efficiency. It will also help the electric company get power outages fixed faster.
Pacific Power will be installing them throughout rural Oregon, starting with Independence.
“It’s just another little piece of that larger puzzle that we’re putting together here,” economic development director Shawn Irvine said.
Irvine said the city leads by example that rural communities can also be on the cutting edge. They installed city wide broadband a decade ago, and they’re at the forefront of agricultural tech too.
“We really see ourselves as pioneering our way into the future, we’re using technology to you know embrace the future and see what we can do with it,” Irvine said.