Replacement Metering Project – Frequently Asked Questions & Answers

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PWC will install more than 180,000 new meters across its service territory over the course of the next 3 years. The meters will give customers greater control over their electric and/or water costs, while at the same time improving system reliability.Advanced Meters are two-way communication devices with the potential to transform the way electricity and water is used. Customers should familiarize themselves with these devices and their capabilities to take full advantage of them. Some answers to frequently asked questions are provided below.

What is an Advanced Meter?
An advanced meter is like a traditional meter in that it records energy and/or water usage, but it also enables two-way communication between the meter and PWC. It can record consumption in intervals of an hour or less and shares that information with PWC for monitoring and billing.  Advanced meters offer many advantages, including:

  • Faster, more accurate detection/more responsive resolution to issues such as a power outage or water leaks.
  • Enhanced access to your account information so you can make informed decision about your utility services.
  • Remote meter reading which reduces traffic in your neighborhood and the need for PWC personnel to enter your property.
  • Expanded customer options including pre-paid services.

Why is my meter being replaced?
PWC is exchanging existing meters for new meters to continue to provide customers with reasonable rates and better service – like more reliable delivery of energy, better power-outage detection, more responsive problem resolution and remote meter reading.

What are the benefits of Advanced Meters?
Because the meters communicate electronically, they reduce traffic and vehicle emissions in your neighborhood caused by reading the meter or turning meters on and off. The new meters will also help provide better service – like improved delivery of energy, better power-outage detection, faster problem resolution and remote meter reading. Customers will have access to detailed usage information, benefit from improved reliability and greater privacy.

When will I receive my new meter?
PWC will begin installing the meters in summer 2014. More than 150,000 advanced meters are scheduled to be installed over the next several years. Customers will be notified when PWC’s approved metering service provider will replace meters in your neighborhood.

How long does the installation take? Will my power or water service be disrupted?
Each meter replacement will take about 1-5 minutes, and your electrical and/or water service(s) will go off briefly while the work is being done.

Who will install the new meters?
Apex CoVantage, the approved metering service providers for PWC, will install the new meters.

Does the radio frequency from Advanced Meters pose a health risk?
Wireless technology is prevalent in our every day lives. Everything from cell phones to wireless internet routers to baby monitors and garage door openers use radio frequency to operate. The Federal Communications Commission sets radio frequency levels for AMI meters and the meters used by PWC will comply with the FCC standards. Radio frequency levels measured from advanced meters are well below the approved limits established for the general public.

Radio frequency from Advanced Meters have been studied and found to emit very low fields and then only intermittently. Any exposure to humans would be extremely small. Below is a comparison of advanced meters to common household appliances:

Source Exposure Level
FM radio or TV broadcast signal 0.005
Advanced Meters at 10 feet 0.1
Cyber Cafe (Wi-Fi) 10-20
Laptop Computer 10-20
Cell Phone held up to ear 30 – 10,000
Walkie-talkie 500 – 42,000
Microwave at 2-inches from door 5,000

 

How do I read my new meter if I want to monitor my usage?
Reading an advanced meter is easy when following the steps in this How to Read Your Advanced Meters document.

Will the communication system interfere with my home or business equipment?
Advanced Meters should not adversely affect the stability or performance of home wireless networks. The FCC regulates all electronics to prevent one type of electronic equipment from interfering with other electronic and wireless devices that operate in the same frequency band.

Can I make an appointment for my meter installation?
PWC will give customers a general time frame when the meter will be installed through its pre-installation post card. If Apex CoVantage, the approved metering service providers for PWC, cannot install a meter due to access or safety issues, a door hanger will be left at the customer’s premises with a phone number so the customer make arrangements for the meter change out.

Will a meter reader still come to my home to read the meter?
After initial installation, meters will continue to be read in the traditional fashion for a period of time until the system is fully functional. However, PWC employees will continue to need access to meters for periodic safety and quality assurance inspections and maintenance.

Will the new meters automatically notify PWC when there is an electrical outage?
In the near future, the new meters will provide information that will help alert PWC about outages. However, we will ask customers to call and let us know when they are experiencing an outage in their home or neighborhood. When customers call, they can also provide us with information about downed power lines or anything else they may observe that could help PWC’s restoration efforts. The same goes for a water outage of any kind.

How accurate are the meters?
Advanced Meters are extremely accurate and are subject to strict design standards when they are manufactured. PWC has a procedure to select and test meters before and after putting them into service to confirm they operate satisfactorily. In addition, all advanced meters must meet standards and requirements set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Because Advanced meters are not mechanical meters , they will maintain their accuracy over a longer period time because there are no moving parts to degrade.

Will my new meter make my bills higher?
Some customers have reported that bills are higher after new meters are installed.  This may be because advanced meters are likely to be more accurate than the analog (or mechanical) meters they are replacing.   Studies have shown that mechanical meters are likely to be slower because of older mechanisms that have slowed down or even stopped.  A 2015 Meter Accuracy Evaluation performed by Black and Veatch, found that aging mechanical meters (15+ years old) can be 5-10% slower than advanced meters, resulting in less accurate readings.

Will AMI cause rates to change?
AMI will provide the information and structure for PWC to shift to Time of Use (TOU) Electric rates – charging higher electric rates during peak hours. PWC will eventually convert to TOU rates once AMI is fully implemented several years away. It will also give customers more information to allow them to adjust how and when they use electricity so this will also be a savings to the customers.

Will my new meter be fully functional after it is installed?
It will take a few years to fully deploy the equipment and programs necessary to support all the benefits of AMI. After all meters are installed, customers will begin to have access to information about their utility use to help them make informed choices about their utilities.

Will my account and usage information remain confidential?
PWC’s system is and will continue to be in compliance with standards on cyber security and privacy. These include standards set by the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Our systems also comply with federal and state regulations. The meters and the associated communications system are encrypted and equipped with security features to prevent unauthorized access.

Will PWC be able to tell what I’m doing in the privacy of my home?
No, PWC will collect how much energy and water a customer uses, but we’ll have no way of knowing what appliance he/she was using during that time.