East Mississippi Electric Power Association will begin installing new meters in the spring of 2015 to increase the efficiency and reliability of the electric system. Improving the efficiency of operations and power delivery can help keep costs down for our members.
The biggest change? With the new meters from Landis+Gyr, EMEPA will be able to monitor, control and read meters remotely. This will save time, labor and operational expenses.
In addition to reducing operational expenses, the new meters will help improve the reliability of our system. The new technology enables EMEPA to be proactive in detecting problems quickly and locate outages more precisely, sometimes even before a member has a chance to report it.
Advanced meters can provide detailed information that empowers members to control their overall energy cost, helps operators monitor the electric system in near real-time and enables customer service representatives to address billing questions.
At EMEPA, taking advantage of new technologies allows us to improve efficiency and reliability, which is one more way that we are looking out for our members.
Frequently Asked Questions about Advanced Meters
How does my new automated meter work?
With these new meters, EMEPA can read the meter remotely from our central office. Information from the meter is generally transmitted back to EMEPA four times a day. This means that a meter reader no longer is required to come to your house each month. However, EMEPA representatives will continue to occasionally come on your property for maintenance inspections and to ensure safety during storms and outages.
What’s the difference between the new meters and the old meters?
EMEPA has been using both electronic (digital displays) and electro-mechanical meters (mechanical dials) for many years. All new meters being installed will be electronic and have a digital LCD display. New meters will store metering information electronically inside the meter rather than through mechanical dials and registers, and it will periodically transmit the information securely to EMEPA’s office.
What information does the new meter record?
The new meter records the total kWh usage like your existing meter. In addition, it can record the usage over time and the maximum demand as well as quality of service measurements such as the number of blinks, outages, low and high voltages and times of outages and restorations.
How does the new meter communicate and transmit data?
The meters use radio signals in a selected frequency range to transmit and receive information. The meters are able to transmit messages in a matter of seconds or less, very similar to sending a text message, at power levels less than half of a mobile phone. This technology has been used effectively in the utility industry for over 20 years and is also found in common consumer devices such as cordless telephones, baby monitors and WIFI routers.
Are there any potential health impacts from a meter that can receive and send data?
No. Research conducted by the Electric Power Research Institute, the Utilities Telecom Council and others has revealed no health impacts from advanced meters. The radio frequencies emitted by digital meters falls well below the maximum recommended in federal guidelines. Contrary to some misconceptions, the new meters transmit radio frequencies (RF) infrequently, only when responding to a request for data from EMEPA office, or periodically when reporting readings or quality of service events, typically once every four hours for less than a second. When compared to other consumer devices enabled with radio transmitters such as your cell phone, cordless phones, baby monitors, wireless headphones or other blue tooth devices, which are constantly sending and retrieving data, the new meters send and receive data at an RF density hundreds of times less than devices you use every day– and the meters are installed on the outside of your house not next to your ear!
How will new technology improve our energy future?
Advanced meters enable new applications by providing homes and businesses new ways to save energy and money. It has been consistently proven that being able to see your daily usage can reduce your energy consumption by 3 to 5 percent, simply by making you aware of how fast your power bill is growing, well before it is due.
Another application enables alternative rates like time-of-use, for those who choose to take advantage of them. Some members may be willing to change their habits or use smart appliances with timers so they don’t operate when power is in high demand, like a hot summer afternoon. With time-of-use rates, saving money can be as simple as running appliances like dishwashers, water heaters and clothes dryers later in the evening or mid-morning.
Why are we changing to the advanced meters?
The meter upgrade provides EMEPA members with numerous benefits. The new meters will help us:
- Save money by eliminating the labor and transportation costs of in-person meter reading– a savings we pass on to our members
- Improve billing accuracy, minimizing misreads or inaccurate readings
- Pinpoint the exact location of outages more quickly, meaning a faster response time
- Help our consumer-members troubleshoot high-bill problems by providing information about power use patterns
- Improve electric service reliability and quality by reporting outages, blinks and voltage fluctuations
- Provide members with opportunities to save energy and money
- Help secure the overall safety of the EMEPA employees
How much is this going to cost?
There is no rate increase anticipated in association with this project. Following the installation, members will continue to receive a bill as normal, and meters may be read manually for one to two months to ensure the system is operating properly.
What other additional installation parts will I need?
No additional parts are anticipated or required. However, if something is identified as faulty or hazardous with members’ equipment, EMEPA will repair it if possible.
What if my bill reports more kWh usage than normal or I think my meter is not working correctly?
The new meters installed have been tested and meet American National Standards Institute (ANSI) regulations. The new meters allow for accurate readings and a consistent number of days on each bill. The manufacturer tests new EMEPA meters, and we also test a random sample of meters before installing them at customer locations. Tests have shown that advanced meters are very accurate and reliable, but contact your nearest EMEPA office to discuss your billing concerns.
Will meter readers ever need to come to read the meter manually again once the new meter is in place?
Meter readers will no longer need to spend valuable time traveling to every meter for a monthly reading. All meter readings will be transmitted back to EMEPA headquarters. EMEPA employees will occasionally return to perform a safety inspection or perhaps troubleshoot a meter if it stops operating or is damaged. And other employees will continue to come on your property to perform line inspections, change equipment and trim trees.
What day of the month will the meters be read?
All of EMEPA’s new meters can be read at a variety of times;, however for billing purposes meters will continue to be read on a monthly schedule, much like it is today.
Once EMEPA employees no longer need to read the meter, can obstacles be constructed that may make the meter inaccessible?
No. National safety standards require that reasonable access to equipment must be maintained. This provides EMEPA employees access to the meter for maintenance, inspection or troubleshooting when required. Firefighters also need access to meters so they can disconnect power for their safety.
Will someone other than EMEPA be able to read the new meter?
Just like today, a reading will be displayed on the meter. Regarding electronic information, EMEPA’s suppliers are incorporating security features such as encryption technology into their meters and support systems, as recommended by national security experts.
Can EMEPA disconnect electric service using the new meters?
The majority of meters EMEPA is deploying have remote disconnect capabilities.
Will the new meter notify EMEPA when the power goes out?
Most meters affected by an outage will report the loss of power before shutting down. The meters will also report when power has been restored.
How will advanced meters benefit members?
Advanced meters will help EMEPA continue to provide affordable energy and reliable service, while providing these additional improvements:
- remote access to meter readings
- more accurate and consistent billing
- better power quality and reliability monitoring
- automatic outage and restoration notification
- opportunities for members to reduce power bills
Do I own my electric meter?
No. Electric meters are owned, installed and maintained by EMEPA as a condition of providing electric service to the member. The meter base and service entrance cables are the member’s responsibility. When installing meters, if EMEPA finds a problem, we will make every effort to arrange the repair while on-site, at no cost to you. In some cases a qualified electrician may be required to make repairs to the meter base and service entrance cables.
How do we know that the billing usage data being sent wirelessly is actually my data and does not belong to my neighbor?
When data is collected from a meter and transmitted to EMEPA, the data contains unique identifiers associated with that meter. These identifiers are validated numerous times to ensure accuracy before the data is used for billing. EMEPA abides by stringent policies to protect the privacy and security of our members’ personal information including metering and billing information.