Smart Meter FAQ's
In November 2009, KIUC and 26 other electric cooperatives from 10 states were awarded a $33.9 million matching grant from the U.S. Department of Energy under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) for Smart Grid Demonstration Projects. DOE awarded the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Cooperative Research Network half of the project’s total cost of $67 million to test and develop technologies that operate together to make the grid more efficient and reliable. The cost of KIUC’s project is $11 million, of which $5.5 million is being paid by the federal government.
As part of the program, KIUC is investing in new, smart meters to improve the efficiency and reliability of the electric system and to give members more control over their power usage.
Here are the most common questions and answers.
Q: Why are we changing to the automated meters?
A: The meter upgrade provides KIUC members with numerous benefits:
• Accuracy—fewer read errors
• Fewer estimated bills
• Billing date flexibility
• Monitor energy consumption
• Improved power quality
• Faster outage restoration
• Potential energy savings
Q: When will my meter be installed?
A: KIUC began installation of the new meters in May 2012 and the work is expected to last about a year. Members will receive a letter about two weeks before their meter is scheduled to be replaced.
Q: Will I lose electrical service during the installation?
A: Yes, for a few minutes. You will need to reset electronic clocks and other devices.
Q: How does my new automated meter work?
A: The new meters will send in daily readings and power outage information to our office in Lihue.
Q: How much is this going to cost?
A: There will be no cost to the member. No rate increase is anticipated in association with this project. Following the installation, members will receive a bill with two readings: one for the old meter and one for the new meter.
Q: Who will be changing out the meters?
A: Locally hired installers working with the manufacturer of the meters, Landis + Gyr, and the installation contractor, Utility Partners of America. The workers are fully trained and their work is supervised and checked by installation experts.
Q: But what if I REALLY don’t want a new meter?
A: Members can defer installation. Depending on how many members choose to defer, KIUC may seek to recover the cost of maintaining two separate meter systems.
Q: What is the difference between the new meters and the old meters?
A: The new meters are equipped with a two-way communications module and the ability to communicate with our central office computer system via a secure wireless network. The existing meters were either an electromechanical device or an older digital device. The older digital meters devices actually transmit data more often and with more power than the new meters.
Q: Will I keep the same rate after the conversion?
A: Yes, members will continue to stay on the same rate class as they have in the past.
Q: What if my bill reports more energy usage than normal or I think my meter is not working correctly?
A: Contact the KIUC office at 246-4300 to discuss your billing concerns. Electronic meters are more accurate than analog or mechanical meters.
Q. Who certifies the safety of the meters?
A. The new meters have been tested and meet American National Standards Institute regulations, which is the standard for commercial products.
Q: Will meter readers ever need to come to read the meter again once the new meter is in place?
A: Probably not. Meter readers no longer will regularly need to spend time traveling to every meter for a monthly read. And that adds up to 100,000 annual miles that won’t be driven by meter readers, which saves fuel and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
Q: What information does the new meter record?
A: The new meter records an electronic kilowatt-hour reading, the date and time of energy usage, the overall peak demand of the electric account, if the meter has rotated backwards, and the number of times the meter has experienced a loss of power for any reason.
Q: What day of the month will the meters be read?
A: All of the co-op’s new meters can be read at a variety of times to obtain a history of account information. However, for billing purposes, member bills will be read on monthly schedules.
Q: Will someone other than the co-op be able to read the new meter?
A: Meter manufacturers are incorporating security features and encryption technology into their meters, as recommended by national security experts. KIUC’s goal is to upgrade the electric distribution system to make it safer, more secure and more reliable. Once your new digital meter is installed, your cooperative will be able to tell if someone “tampers” with your meter because the meter will report any tampering attempts.
Q: How secure will the new meters be?
A: The meter display is visible for members to check their consumption. All data stored in the meter is secure and the meter is sealed. No member information is ever stored in a meter.
Q: Can the cooperative disconnect electric service using the new meters?
A: Yes, meters can have remote disconnect capabilities.
Q: Will the new meter notify the co-op when the power goes out?
A: Yes. The meters will be able to record outages, allowing the cooperative to identify outages to individual households immediately. Once the smart grid system is fully operational, KIUC may even be able to notify you about an outage in your home or business via email or text message to your cell phone.
Q: Are there potential health impacts from a meter that can receive and send data?
A: The simple answer is “no,” but like any new technology, smart grid technology is triggering concerns among a small number of consumers. KIUC is committed to the safety of its members. Research conducted by the Electric Power Research Institute, the World Health Organization, the Food and Drug Administration and the California Council on Science and Technology has found no health impacts from smart meters. The radio frequencies emitted by digital meters fall well below the maximum recommended in federal guidelines. Compare this activity to a laptop with a wireless connection, which is constantly sending and retrieving data. A digital meter equipped to send and receive data has an RF density hundreds of times less than the RF density of a cell phones—and the meters are installed on the outside of your house, not next to your ear.
Q: How will I know if my meter has been changed?
A: The co-op employee or contractor will leave a door hanger on your front door to let you know they have changed the meter. KIUC will work with businesses to minimize any inconvenience. You do not have to be present during the meter change.
Q: How often is the smart meter transmitting?
A: Residential meters typically send data for a total of about 86 seconds a day. When the meters are not sending data they do not emit RF frequencies.