The electric meter at your house measures the amount of electricity you use in kilowatt-hours (kWh). One kWh is equal to using 100 watts of electricity for 10 hours. Your monthly electric bill is based on the amount of energy you use. (A customer who uses 2,000 kWh will have a higher bill than one who uses 1,000 kWh.)
Smart meters are uploading usage information daily. Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) uses meter data to bill you monthly. The time between billings may vary from 27 to 34 days if a scheduled bill date falls on a weekend or holiday. The date the meter was read and the number of days in each billing period are printed on your bill.
Why Do We Call It a Smart Meter?
Smart meters are able to communicate. They automatically send information such as outage alerts and energy usage for meter readings.
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.
- Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) technology provides two-way communications with smart meters for voltage monitoring, outage detection, and on-demand meter readings.
- With smart meters, tasks that used to take hours can now be completed in minutes.
How Does SMECO Save With Smart Meters?
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. Smart meters will also allow SMECO to respond more quickly to outages and that means your power will be restored faster.
How Can You Save with a Smart Meter?
Your smart meter data is used for billing purposes. Log into Account Manager to view your energy use. You’ll be able to compare it to weather data and billing data. SMECO provides energy use and billing data to help you manage your energy use and control your electric bill.
Smart, Safe, and Secure
- Smart meters communicate, and that improves reliability and efficiency and helps save money.
- SMECO’s smart meters communicate data for less than five seconds per day. And they use very low wattage, much less than a cell phone or even a baby monitor.
- Smart meters use data encryption and SMECO’s private radio network to communicate. You control your appliances and your privacy is protected.
How to Read Your Meter
SMECO uses smart meters that automatically send information such as outage alerts and energy usage data. You can read your meter to help you keep track of your kWh usage, or you can log into Account Manager to track your energy usage and more.
The displays on the smart meters cycle through seven screens, which change every few seconds. Watch our smart meter video further down this page for more information on reading your meter.
Screen 1 – Display Test
The first screen in the sequence simply verifies that the display is working properly.
Screens 2 & 3 – Your Electricity Use
The second screen is a marker for the next screen, which shows the amount of electricity used as measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). For most residential customers, the third screen shows all they need to know.
Screens 4 & 5 – The Electricity You Generate
Some customers have solar panels or other means of generating their own electricity. The fourth screen is a marker for the upcoming screen, which displays the amount of excess energy produced by the customer’s solar panels. SMECO’s meter doesn’t measure how much energy you produced and used during the month.
Screens 6 & 7 – Your Electricity Demand
The sixth screen is a marker for the upcoming screen, which shows electricity demand. Demand is the maximum amount of electricity that you consume at a given time. The seventh screen displays the amount of demand as measured in kilowatts (kW). Commercial customers are billed for their demand.
How to Read Your Smart Meter Video
Smart Meters FAQ
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.
- 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
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.
Yes, smart meters have an easy-to-read digital display instead of analog dials.
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 5 seconds per day
The manufacturers of SMECO’s smart meters test their equipment to ensure compliance with U.S. government standards for safe operation.
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.
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.
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 National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
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.
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.
No, the cost for smart meters, as with most equipment purchased by SMECO, is part of regular business expenses and is recovered in rates.
If you want to opt out of SMECO’s smart meter installation, contact SMECO at (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 you opt out, SMECO will remove the existing meter, review the condition of the meter base and service conductors, and install a basic digital meter.
Smart meters are capable of notifying SMECO when your power is out and when it comes back on. To report an outage or check for status updates, go to SMECO's outage map. You may report your outage by texting OUT to 76326 (SMECO), or by contacting SMECO through our automated system at (877) 74-SMECO ((877) 747-6326) or our Customer Care Center at (888) 440-3311.
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.
SMECO’s policy, in accordance with applicable law, is to protect the confidentiality of smart meter energy use data. SMECO’s confidentiality policy applies to data that are under SMECO’s custody, whether the data reside under SMECO’s control or under the control of a SMECO-approved third party.
What Information Is Covered?
SMECO’s smart meters store and communicate customers’ electric energy use data, which include the amount of energy used and the time interval during which the energy was used. This policy covers this smart meter energy use data. SMECO uses the energy use data to bill customers.
SMECO will not sell a customer’s energy use data to a third party. In some instances, SMECO may be required to disclose individual data pursuant to regulation or law.
All customers currently or previously receiving electric distribution or supply service from SMECO, whose usage data is in SMECO’s custody, are covered by this policy. This policy applies to all smart meter energy use data maintained by SMECO, electronic or printed, stored on any medium. Energy use data that are not specific to the customer, such as combined or aggregated data, are not covered by this policy. SMECO discloses energy use data not covered under this policy in accordance with laws, regulations, Maryland Public Service Commission orders, and SMECO’s Commission-approved tariffs.
SMECO is required by law to observe certain prohibitions regarding the disclosure of individual customer data. Customers’ smart meter energy use data will only be collected, processed, retained, or disclosed for legitimate SMECO utility-related business reasons.
Customers may contact SMECO to request their own energy use data. In addition, SMECO may provide energy use data with customer consent to a third party, primarily those providing energy-related products or services, taking into account the nature and frequency of the customer’s request.
What Does SMECO Do to Protect My Data?
SMECO is committed to protecting customer information, and that commitment continues as smart meters are employed and technology evolves. Personally identifiable information, such as name, address, account number, social security number, or credit and payment information, is not transmitted to or from the meter.
SMECO protects smart meter energy use data by using an access-controlled private data network. SMECO employees and their contractors may not access, remove, disclose or use smart meter energy use data (other than for legitimate company business) nor may employees or contractors assist others in such access, removal, disclosure, or use. All employees and contractors who have access to smart meter energy use data are required to maintain the confidentiality of that information during and after employment or engagement with SMECO.