SMECO newsletter

volume 67 - issue 3 - March 2017

Do you have questions about smart meters?

SMECO is installing smart meters throughout its service area during 2017. SMECO has hosted several open houses to offer members an opportunity to see the meters and ask questions, and we have noticed some of the same questions keep popping up.

Why is SMECO installing smart meters?

During the 20th century, meter technology did not change much, and some of the meters on our system are 35–40 years old, need replacement, and are technically obsolete.

Smart meters are modern, electronic meters that can do more than just measure energy use. The new meters can help SMECO improve customer service and save money by reducing our operational expenses. We will no longer have to send personnel to your home or business every month to read the meter. We will be able to respond to power outages more quickly and efficiently. After power is restored, we can use smart meters to verify that all customers in an area have their power back on.

Do I have to get a smart meter if I don't want one?

Residential and small commercial customers with single-phase service may opt out. If you want to opt out of SMECO's smart meter installation, contact SMECO at 1-888-440-3311. You will then receive a letter confirming your choice to opt out. The letter explains the cost: an initial fee of $75 and a monthly charge of $17. These additional charges will be applied to your bill after smart meters are installed in your area.

All meters will be exchanged, even if you opt out. SMECO will remove the existing meter, review the condition of the meter base and service conductors, and install a legacy digital meter.

Customers who allow SMECO to install a smart meter at their home or business are not charged any additional fees.

Are the meters compatible with solar panels?

Yes. For customers who have solar panels or some other way of generating their own electricity, smart meters not only track the amount of kWh used, they track the amount of kWh produced in excess of what the customer used.

All residential and commercial accounts that have smart meters will have bills that show both kWh used and excess kWh produced. On your bill, the amount of energy supplied by SMECO is printed in the Forward kWh column. If you generate solar or wind energy, the amount of energy produced in excess of what you used will be printed in the Reverse kWh column. If you don't have solar panels, the amount of energy produced will be zero, and 0 will be printed in the Reverse kWh column.

Will net meters be replaced also?

Yes. If your home has a net meter, it will be replaced with a smart meter. Beginning in the fall of 2016, all new net meter installs were smart meters.

Do I have to be home when the smart meter is installed?

No. The meter installer will knock on your door to let you know about the meter exchange but will proceed if the knock is not answered. Please make sure to provide safe access to the electric meter.

Can smart meters control my electric use?

No. SMECO's smart meters cannot be used to control your appliances. Like SMECO's standard meters, they only measure whole-house energy use.

Can smart meters control my thermostat like the CoolSentry program?

No. The SMECO CoolSentry program is a separate program for reducing peak demand during the summer. Customers who choose to participate in the CoolSentry program have a programmable thermostat or a device on the heat pump/AC outdoor unit and receive electric bill credits during the summer.

Don't I already have a smart meter?

Maybe. As of February 1, 2017, SMECO had installed 24,734 smart meters. Many customers have had digital meters but not smart meters. These meters look similar but a digital meter does not communicate remotely to SMECO. Digital meters require a meter reader to take monthly readings.

Are the smart meters UL listed?

Yes. The smart meters that SMECO is using are certified by the Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Smart meter technology has also been thoroughly tested by manufacturers and utilities using a wide range of tests and equipment to ensure that the meters adhere to the established meter accuracy guidelines set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

When will SMECO be installing the meter at my home or business?

SMECO sends postcards and brochures to customers who will have a smart meter installed at their location two to four weeks before the meter exchange. A map on SMECO's website also shows the general area where SMECO's contractor, Utility Partners of America (UPA), will be working. The map can be found at smeco.coop/services/smart-meters/map.

If you have additional questions about smart meters, please visit smeco.coop/gettingsmarter or call our customer care representatives at 1-888-440-3311.