Smart Meters FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions:

What are smart meters?

Smart meters are modern, electronic meters that can do more than just measure energy use; they can communicate. These meters record electric energy use and transmit that data to SMECO at regular intervals. You can monitor your daily energy use so you can make more informed energy choices.

What are the benefits of smart meters?

Improved customer service and reduced operating costs

  • 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

Why has SMECO installed smart meters?

Smart meters help SMECO improve customer service and save money by reducing our operational expenses. We do not have to send personnel to your home or business every month to read the meter. We are able to respond to power outages more quickly and efficiently. After power is restored, we use smart meters to verify that all customers in an area have their power back on.

Can I read SMECO’s smart meter?

Yes, smart meters have an easy-to-read digital display instead of analog dials. See our guide to reading SMECO’s smart meters.

How do smart meters communicate?

SMECO’s smart meters use a radio signal to communicate, just like a cell phone, cordless phone, or other devices in your house that use radio signals (aka, radio frequency or RF), such as these:

  • Laptop computer or Wi-Fi wireless router
  • Baby monitor or walkie-talkie
  • Remote controlled (or radio controlled) toys
  • Garage door opener
  • Kindle, iPad, or other mobile devices while online

The transmissions from these communication devices, like those from smart meters, are harmless when the device is used as designed.

  • Smart meters use a very low wattage to transmit information.
  • Under normal circumstances, they only transmit once per hour.
  • They only transmit for 1/10 of a second, normally less than five seconds per day.

The manufacturers of SMECO’s smart meters test their equipment to ensure compliance with U.S. government standards for safe operation.

Read a more detailed explanation about radio waves and their safety.

Can the smart meter control my appliances?

No, SMECO’s smart meters cannot be used to control your appliances. Like SMECO’s basic digital meters, they measure whole-house energy use.

The SMECO CoolSentry program is a separate program for reducing peak demand during the summer. Customers who choose to participate in the program have a programmable thermostat or a device on the heat pump/AC outdoor unit, and they receive electric bill credits during the summer.

Is the smart meter network secure?

Security is a top priority for SMECO. We take all reasonable and necessary steps to ensure the services we provide are extremely secure. SMECO’s smart meters operate on a secure and private radio network, and data is encrypted to enforce security.

How do I know smart meters measure energy use accurately?

Smart meter technology has 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).

SMECO smart meters are tested by the manufacturer, and SMECO tests a random sample of meters before they are installed. Tests have shown that smart meters are very accurate.

How do you know that the billing usage data being sent wirelessly is actually my data and does not belong to my neighbor?

When data is collected from a meter and transmitted wirelessly to SMECO, the data contains specific unique identifiers associated with the customer’s meter number and service address.

These fields are validated numerous times to ensure accuracy before the data is used for billing. This process is similar to cell phone technology; each cell phone has a unique number that goes with every communication which is used to identify a cell tower and connect your call to the correct location.

Do I pay a monthly fee for the new meter?

No, the cost for smart meters, as with most equipment purchased by SMECO, is part of regular business expenses and is recovered in rates.

What if I don’t want a smart meter?

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. (The $75 fee may be paid in three monthly installments. That means your first three bills will have additional charges of $42, then starting with the fourth bill, the ongoing charge will be $17 per month.) Only residential and small commercial customers with single-phase service may opt out.

If I opt out, what will SMECO install?

SMECO removes the existing meter, reviews the condition of the meter base and service conductors, and installs a basic digital meter.

What do I do if the power goes out?

Contact SMECO if you have a power outage. Call our automated system at 1-877-74-SMECO (1-877-747-6326) or our Customer Care Center at 1-888-440-3311. Even though smart meters are capable of notifying us when your power is out and when it comes back on, your call will help us as SMECO develops this important function.

Do I own my electric meter?

Electric meters are owned, installed, and maintained by SMECO as a condition of providing electric service to the customer. The meter base and service entrance cables are the customer’s responsibility. A qualified electrician should make repairs to the meter base and service entrance cables to ensure the system provides safe, reliable service.

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