SMECO newsletter

volume 66 - issue 12 - December 2016

SMECO will be installing smart meters in 2017

Throughout 2017, SMECO's contractor, Utility Partners of America (UPA), will be installing smart meters to all customer-members in the service area. All new homes and businesses will get a smart meter beginning in mid-December. If an existing meter needs to be exchanged, the old meter will be replaced with a smart meter.

Smart meter

Smart meters are digital electronic meters capable of two-way communications. Having two-way communications enables SMECO to offer you key benefits, including the ability for SMECO to respond to outages more quickly and effectively so we can do our best to meet our members' needs.

Installation

• SMECO currently has 17,000 smart meters installed throughout the service area.

• During 2017, UPA will install approximately 14,000 meters per month.

• You will receive a postcard and brochure prior to your meter exchange.

• It's important that customer-members provide the installer with safe access to the meter. Clear any obstructions, including bushes that need to be trimmed, items that need to be moved, or gates that need to be unlocked. Also keep pets away from the meter so installers have safe access.

• The day that UPA arrives to install the new meter, they will knock on your door to let you know about the meter exchange. Your power will be out for 5 to 10 minutes.

• SMECO will update its website to show where meter installations are scheduled.

Options

Residential and small commercial customers who would like to opt out of receiving the new smart meters can call SMECO at 1-888-440-3311.

• Those who choose to opt out will be charged an initial fee of $75 and a monthly fee of $17.

• Customers who allow SMECO to install a smart meter at their home or business aren't charged an additional fee.

• Even if you opt out of receiving a smart meter, you will still receive a new digital meter. SMECO is in the process of upgrading its technology to better serve all of its customer-members. Many of the existing electric meters are 35 to 40 years old, so the cooperative is using this transition as an opportunity to remove the existing meter, review the condition of the meter base and service conductors, and install a standard digital meter.

Safe, smart, and secure

Smart meters will help SMECO and its members work together toward a smarter energy future. We can work together to reduce energy use, to improve the reliability of our electric system, and to increase the efficiency of our operations. Smart meters communicate by telling SMECO how much energy you use, when your power goes out and when it comes back on, when voltage is too high, and when voltage is too low.

Smart

• Smart meters improve efficiency because they reduce the time it takes to read meters from hours to minutes. Automated capabilities can curtail unnecessary trips, eliminate travel time, save gas, reduce emissions, and provide an immediate response.

• Smart meters save money on operational costs for labor and transportation and they increase employee safety.

• Smart meters increase reliability because they report power problems and outages when they occur, providing SMECO with the data needed to enhance customer service.

Secure

• Smart meters measure the energy use of the whole house, just like a standard meter. Smart meters cannot measure the energy use of individual appliances in your house, and SMECO's smart meters cannot be used to control your appliances.

• Smart meters employ several techniques to enforce security, including data encryption, and they operate on SMECO's secure and private radio network.

• Your privacy is protected. SMECO currently has cyber security plans and privacy policies in place to protect customer data. And, because your privacy is important to us, SMECO's privacy policy prevents customer data from being sold to a third party.

Safe

• SMECO's smart meters use radio waves to communicate with a brief pulse—less than five seconds per day.

• To transmit data, smart meters use very low wattage, much less than a cell phone, cordless phone, or baby monitor.

• When a smart meter transmits data, most of the output is directed away from the house, and as the distance increases, the signal strength decreases.

Questions?

If you have any questions, please call our customer care representatives at 1-888-440-3311 or visit smeco.coop/gettingsmarter. SMECO will also be holding open houses.

• Prince Frederick open house: January 26, 2017

• Leonardtown open house: February 9, 2017

• Hughesville open house: February 23, 2017

For detailed information on the open houses, go to the article Learn more about smart meters at an open house.