volume 66 - issue 4 - April 2016
Smart meters are on their way
SMECO is in the process of upgrading its technology to better serve customer-members.
Many of SMECO's existing electric meters are 35 to 40 years old and require manual meter readings every month. The new smart meter is a digital electronic meter capable of two-way communications. Having two-way communications enables SMECO to offer a number of key benefits, including more detailed billing information and the ability to respond to outages more quickly and effectively. As smart meters help SMECO operate more efficiently, the cooperative can pass on benefits to customers, including the following:
• Improved customer service and support
- Fewer estimated bills
- Faster service for customers who open and close accounts
- Data to help resolve billing and usage questions
- Fewer visits to the meter
• Reduced operating costs
- Lower costs for meter reading and billing
- No need to send technicians into the field for off-cycle meter readings or customer-requested service disconnects and reconnects
- Better data to plan, construct, and optimize SMECO's distribution system
• Future service improvements for customers
- Detailed hourly usage data to be made available to customers online
- Improved outage detection and power restoration capabilities
- Ability to introduce energy saving programs
SMECO's smart meter project is a long-term initiative. SMECO installed its first smart meters in March 2011 in a pilot area in Waldorf and at Naval Air Station Patuxent River. The Sensus meters SMECO installed operated correctly, communicated with our base stations, provided meter readings as expected, and sent alerts when necessary. Sensus redesigned its meters to make them even more reliable and less susceptible to water and contamination damage. SMECO's meter department personnel have conducted stringent tests to determine the new model holds up well and it is UL listed and ANSI certified.
SMECO plans to begin installing new meters in the Golden Beach neighborhood in northern St. Mary's County during spring 2016. Following this installation, the cooperative will install an additional 13,500 meters through the summer of 2016. Completion of full deployment is expected in the first quarter of 2018. Members are able to opt out of receiving a new smart meter by making a request to SMECO's Contact Center at 1-888-440-3311. Members who choose to opt out of the smart meter installation will incur fees determined by the Public Service Commission.
The cooperative will let you know when it adds additional benefits and programs so you can take full advantage of the various ways to manage your energy use and costs. These are exciting times, as we all work together for greater efficiency and reduced energy use.
If you have any questions, please call our Contact Center Representatives at 1-888-440-3311 or visit www.smeco.coop/gettingsmarter.