Advanced Meter FAQs

FAQs

 

To help answer some of your questions about Duck River EMC’s advanced metering, we have provided a list of the most commonly asked questions. If you would like other details about the advanced meter program, please call your local DREMC office.
Why did DREMC elect to install advanced meters, replacing the mechanical meters?

Upgrading our system to the advanced meter technology provides numerous benefits for our consumer-members including:

  • Improved member service by providing detailed data about energy use
    • data is reported daily via DREMC’s website and mobile app for members to review
    • helps you determine possible causes of high bills 
    • helps you track electric us trends (increased electric use during weekends, holidays, etc.)
    • helps you measure energy savings following improvements and efficiency upgrades
  • Improved reliability by identifying and pinpointing outages more quickly
    • outages are instantaneously reported to DREMC’s dispatch center
  • Improved efficiency in holding down costs for your cooperative
    • remote meter reading via advanced communication
    • creates lower operational costs by reducing labor and transportation 
What is an advanced meter, and how does it work?

An advanced meter offers wireless communications capabilities between your electric meter and DREMC. Rather than driving to each meter every month for the purpose of recording your electric use for billing, DREMC can now read the meter electronically from our office. Information is secured, encrypted and sent to the cooperative by radio frequency (RF). Although we still encourage you to call to report outages, this wireless communications technology notifies DREMC when your power is out. This is especially important during storms when outages may occur.

The advanced meter provides the platform for many new benefits to our members now and in the future. Therefore, advanced meters are installed on all DREMC accounts, which will eliminate monthly, manual meter reading and many miles of travel each year covering the 6,000 miles of electric lines on our system.

It is also important to understand that while this technology is advanced, it is not new; it has been around since the 1980s. In fact, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, advanced metering across the nation has reached market penetration levels of over 75%.

If you have further questions about advanced metering technology, you may contact us at your local DREMC office.

How do I know the advanced meter works as you say it does?

Here’s just one example of how the advanced meter and daily energy alert helped a DREMC member:

A member recently discovered that his unit’s emergency heat strips were stuck in the “on” position after noticing a tremendous increase in his daily energy use reported in the text alert. Because the malfunction was discovered quickly, the member was able to correct the problem to help avoid a high electric bill and further damage to his home and central unit. 

Does the advanced meter affect my cost for electricity?

No. Even though your advanced meter has the capability to measure energy use at shorter intervals, you will continue to be billed based on your monthly kWh use. Commercial accounts that are currently billed a demand charge will continue to be billed demand and energy charges. Advanced meters still measure the same thing mechanical meters measured – electric consumption. Advanced meters just offer newer, more reliable technology. We installed advanced meters as a benefit to our members, and you will not see any change in your cost of service due to the meter upgrade.

Do members have a choice in having an advanced meter at their location?

Yes. Our goal was to install advanced meters at every electric account. If a member chooses not to have the advanced meter at a location, a declination waiver form must be completed, and a $25 monthly meter reading fee will be added to the bill to cover costs; this fee is equal to our current service charge per trip.

Are there any potential health impacts from a meter than can receive and send data?

No. Advanced metering technology leverages low amounts of radio frequency (RF) to enhance wireless communications. DREMC has thoroughly explored the safety of its advanced meters and complies with Federal and International health organizations’ guidelines for safety and security standards. Research conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the American Cancer Society and others have all verified the safety and security of RF technology used in advanced meters.

In fact, an advanced meter equipped to send and receive data has an energy level hundreds of times less than the energy level of cell phones, and the meters are installed on the outside of your house. The amount of RF in your advanced meter is exponentially less than other common appliances in your home such as microwave ovens, cordless phones, garage door openers and even baby monitors.

Advanced meters communicate intermittently with each RF signal typically lasting from 2 to 20 milliseconds. Their intermittent signals total, on average, 45 seconds per day. For the other 23 hours and 59 minutes of the day, the meter is not transmitting any RF.

I use a cell phone every day. How does the RF from a cell phone compare to the RF from an advanced meter?

The RF from an advanced meter is much less than that of a typical cell phone. In fact, studies show that you would need one of the advanced meters on your home or business for more than 1,000 years to get as much exposure to radio waves as a typical cell phone user gets in just one month.

What if my bill reports more kWh use than normal, or I think my meter is not working correctly?

The advanced meters have been tested and meet American National Standards Institute (ANSI) regulations. If you have billing concerns, contact your local office right away to discuss.

Will meter readers ever need to read the meter manually again once the new meter is in place?

Meter readers will no longer travel to every meter for a monthly read. All meter readings will be digitally transmitted back to DREMC’s headquarters. However, utility personnel will still need access to the meter for routine maintenance, inspection, repairs or emergency situations. Also, the meters will be periodically read manually for testing purposes. Therefore, the meter must remain clear of obstructions just as they have in the past.

What day of the month is my meter read for billing purposes?

While the advanced meters report daily electric use, the meter reading date reported on your bill will indicate the end of the actual billing period. The billing and due dates are shown on your monthly billing statement.

Now that DREMC employees no longer need to physically read my meter each month, can obstacles be constructed that may make the meter inaccessible?

No. Reasonable access to equipment still must be maintained to allow DREMC personnel access to the meter for routine maintenance or repairs and to disconnect the meter in case of an emergency.

Will the cooperative continue to perform service inspections?

Yes. Routine inspections and periodic manual readings of all meters and services will continue in order to look for safety hazards, theft or other problems.

Can DREMC disconnect and reconnect electric service using advanced meter technology?

Some of the advanced meters have the capability of remotely disconnecting and reconnecting electric service. DREMC researched historical data to determine the locations that most recently have required a disconnect and reconnect. Rental properties and properties with frequent resale were identified for this feature.

Will advanced meters notify the cooperative when the power goes out?

Yes. The advanced meter is capable of reporting to DREMC when electricity is interrupted to the device.

Will the advanced meter notify the member when the power goes out?

No. The advanced meter is not able to report to the member that the power is out. However, outage notification is already available to DREMC members by signing up for alerts and reminders on our website (Login to your account under My Account) or via DREMC’s mobile app.

Is my data secure?

Yes. Safety and security of our members is a priority at DREMC and always has been. DREMC abides by the strictest industry guidelines for data security and privacy. All reading data that is transmitted to the cooperative is encrypted and secure and is subject to the same privacy laws and confidentiality policies as all other member information. Our goal is to upgrade our electric distribution system to make it safer, more secure, more efficient and more reliable. The advanced meters are part of this effort.

Where can I get more detailed information?

If you would like further information, please call your local DREMC office.