Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)
State Approves Smart Meter Installation
The Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) issued an order on June 21, 2013, to allow SMECO to proceed with deployment of smart meters in Southern Maryland. In 2011, SMECO installed close to 2,000 smart meters as a pilot to test the technology. The pilot’s success played a big role in the PSC’s decision to award approval to SMECO.
SMECO is currently negotiating contracts for the installation of the new meters and a web portal for customer-members to actively view their energy usage. This safe, and highly secure advanced technology will give customers more information on ways that customer-members will be able to reduce their energy usage, helping them save energy and save money.
About Smart Meters
Customer-members who have a smart meter don’t have to do anything special. They will receive their monthly bill like everyone else, and there is no additional charge for the smart meter.
Smart meters are one step in the process of implementing technological improvements to our electric system. Smart meters measure energy usage data and communicate that data to the utility. AMI technology provides two-way communications with smart meters, which enables functions such as voltage monitoring, outage detection, and on-demand meter readings. The current meter system is unable to provide these functions.
AMI technology pays for itself through operational savings. With standard meters, whenever someone moves into or out of a house, SMECO has to send a truck to turn the meter on or off. Sometimes we have to make two trips in the same day. With smart meters, we can perform those tasks remotely, saving time, gas, and labor costs.
As we progress with our smart meter project, we will update this website and publish articles in our customer newsletter to keep you informed.
For more information, check the articles that appeared in our monthly newsletter at the links below.
Cooperative Review Articles
Frequently Asked Questions
What are smart meters?
Smart meters are digital units that are capable of two-way communication, in addition to collecting energy-use data. These meters will record electric energy use and transmit that data to SMECO at regular intervals. In the future, you will be able to monitor your energy use so you can make more informed energy choices.
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 Call 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.
What are the benefits of smart meters?
Smart meters will provide:
Improved customer service and support
- Fewer estimated bills
- Faster opening/closing of customer accounts.
- Data to help resolve billing and usage questions
- Fewer visits to the meter
Reduced operating costs
- Lower costs for meter reading and billing
- No need to send technicians into the field for off-cycle meter reads or customer-requested service disconnects/reconnects
- Better data to plan, construct, and optimize SMECO’s distribution system
Future service improvements for customers
- Detailed hourly usage data to be made available to customers online
- Improved outage detection and restoration capabilities
- Ability to introduce demand response and direct load control programs
Why do we need new meters?
During the 20th century, meter technology did not change much. The electro-mechanical meter on many homes and businesses today is very similar to the meter that was installed 50 years ago. Some of the meters on our system are 35-40 years old. Smart meters are modern, electronic meters that can do more than just measure energy use.
Why is SMECO installing smart meters?
Smart meters can help SMECO 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. SMECO’s goal is to enhance customer service.
Will I be able to read my smart meter?
Yes, smart meters have an easy-to-read digital display instead of analog dials.
How long will a meter reader continue to read my new
electric smart meter?
After the unit is installed, a meter reader will continue to read your meter for billing until we have confirmed that the meters are communicating reliably with our computer system. This may take up to three months.
While we are transitioning to the automated process, there is a chance that data may not be communicated correctly. As we correct any errors that occur during the transition, we’ll continue to see an improvement in meter reading communications.
Will I pay a monthly amount for my new smart meter?
No, the cost for smart meters, as with all meters or equipment purchased by SMECO, is part of regular business expenses and is recovered in rates.
Is SMECO going to charge different rates for electricity based on the time of day or peak demand?
During the first phase of SMECO’s AMI and smart meter project, we will not implement time-of-use or peak demand rates.
Will I need to replace or upgrade my meter base for the new meters?
No. The smart meters are the same size as the existing electric meters.
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.
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. 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.
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.
Will any of SMECO’s meter readers lose their jobs?
SMECO is currently using a contracted firm, Scope Services, to read meters. Our meter readers have received additional training to perform other duties and have been reassigned to other positions.