volume 67 - issue 12 - December 2017
SMECO works for its members, not for profits
In January 2017, SMECO and its contractor, Utility Partners of America (UPA), began installing smart meters throughout the Cooperative’s service area. Nearly every SMECO customer-member now has a smart meter.
Smart meters are safe, smart, and secure—providing key benefits to SMECO and its customer-members.
• Faster service for customers who open and close accounts
• Fewer estimated bills
• Data to help resolve billing and usage questions
• 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
• Detailed hourly usage data to be made available to customers online
• Improved outage detection and power restoration capabilities
Smart meters help SMECO and its customer-members work together toward a smarter energy future. With smart meters, tasks that used to take hours can now be completed in minutes.
Smart meters help SMECO operate more efficiently, and those savings will be passed on to customers.
So far, smart meters have already helped SMECO avoid more than 15,000 trips to customer locations for service connects and customer-requested disconnects. The impact of smart meters also saved more than $3 million by the end of September 2017.
While smart meters will help SMECO respond to outages more quickly and effectively, it’s important for you to continue to report your outage. SMECO has many communication options that will provide outage updates when you have reported your outage, including restoration calls, texts, and updates to the SMECO 24/7 app.
During the roll-out, UPA and SMECO inspected each meter installation on the system. So even customer-members who opted out had their installation inspected and a standard digital meter installed. During the 20th century, meter technology did not change much, and some of the meters on our system were 35 to 40 years old and technically obsolete. Many of these meters had also gone untouched for years. Opening the meter base and inspecting each meter installation provided the Cooperative with the added benefit of finding and fixing issues that were previously undetected.
Throughout the installation process, UPA and SMECO discovered electrical code violations, loose connections, settling wires, and burnt terminals in some customers’ meter bases. Many of the problems were related to deterioration caused by age, but they all created a potential for an outage at the location and possible damage to structures and electrical equipment.About two percent of the installations inspected needed additional work to resolve problems.
“As things heat and cool over time, metal connections expand and contract, resulting in loose connections,” Automation/Meter Operations Manager David Johnson said.
SMECO owns the meter and all equipment up to the service delivery point. Service entrance equipment, including the meter base and service entrance cables, are the property of the customer.
While many of the issues discovered during the smart meter installation were the homeowner’s responsibility, the Cooperative worked with customer-members as part of the full-scale deployment to resolve those issues and install the new meters. The smart meter may be able to assist in catching new problems that arise—concerns that, with the old meters, would previously have gone undiscovered until an outage.
With the deployment nearly complete, SMECO is now installing additional communication devices in its substations and plans to introduce a web portal in late 2018 that will provide hourly usage data to customer-members. Knowing how much energy you are using on a day-to-day, hour-by-hour basis will provide a greater awareness of what is driving energy use in your home and will help you make more energy efficient choices and detect appliance problems earlier. It’s easy to keep an eye on the smart meter and see how much power you are using. Want to learn how to read the new meter? Go to smeco.coop/videos and click on “How to Read Your Smart Meter.”
If you have any questions, please call 1-888-440-3311 or visit smeco.coop/gettingsmarter.