Smart Meter Facts

There is more and more news from across the country about smart meters. Many of the claims that are being made may be causing concern for some of the members of Joe Wheeler EMC. Hopefully, this discussion will answer some of the questions that you might have about smart meters.

Q: Why did Joe Wheeler begin installing smart meters?

A: There were several reasons that JWEMC chose to begin installing smart meters.

  • Lower operating costs: smart meters will help us reduce the costs of reading your meters each month. Currently, Joe Wheeler spends close to $550,000 per year to read meters. Those costs will go away as we get all of the smart meters installed. It will also reduce labor and vehicle costs associated with getting final meter readings when someone wants the power disconnected.
  • Efficiency: We hope to integrate the smart meter system into our outage management system so that the system will help us to determine where outages are more quickly than our current system does. It was our hope that we could reduce some of the frustration that you feel when you are trying to report that your lights are off.
  • Improved reliability: The third thing that we hope to gain is having voltage information at the end of our system to help us identify lines that may need to be upgraded or replaced due to load growth on the system.
  • Improved accuracy: Lastly, smart meters will help us serve you better. Smart meters eliminate the need to physically read the meter. As good as our meters readers are, sometimes they over or under read your meters. Smart meters will assure that we have accurate readings every month. They also provide our customer service representatives with up to the minute information to help answer your questions when you inquire about your account.

Q: Do the smart meters emit radio signals?

A: No, the meters that we installed do not use radio or cellular communications. The meters communicate through the power lines. The power line acts as the communications link.

Q: What makes these meters smart?

A: The meter contains a memory chip that records consumer usage every 15 minutes. We collect that data at least once per day to use in preparing your monthly power bill.

Q: Can Joe Wheeler tell which appliances are operating since installing the smart meters?

A: No, we cannot tell whether you are watching television, cooking, washing clothes or any other activity that you might do in your home.

Q: Will my consumption information be shared with the government or other organizations?

A: The short answer is no. JWEMC has a responsibility to each of you to keep information regarding your account confidential. Your consumption data is not shared with any other organization or the government. Joe Wheeler EMC did not use government grants or loans to fund the installation of the smart meters. The co-op did not want to be obligated in any way to share information should the government ask us to do so.

Q: How did Joe Wheeler EMC pay for the new meters?

A: The co-op utilized internally generated funds to pay for approximately 60% and borrowed money from cooperatively owned banks for about 40% of the cost of buying and installing the smart meters.

Q: Can Joe Wheeler EMC turn my appliances on and off?

A: No, the meters are not set up to turn your appliances on or off. What happens inside your home is your business not ours. It is our belief that you, the consumer, are the best person to determine when and how you use electricity. Consumers should be able to use as much power as they can afford to pay for. JWEMC’s job is to deliver that power to your home or business. To control your appliances, both the consumer and JWEMC would have to make additional investments. The consumer would have to buy a smart appliance that had some sort of communication interface. And, JWEMC would have to spend money to upgrade the meters that we have installed to be able to communicate with your appliances.

Q: Who owns the electric meter?

A: The new meters, just like the old ones, are the property of Joe Wheeler EMC. Even though we will soon not be reading your meters in person, we still require that you grant us access to the meter.

Q: Are the smart meters as accurate as the old meter that was on my house?

A: So far, they have proven to be very accurate. In fact, we have run a smart meter in parallel to an older meter and both of them registered the same consumption.