Advanced Metering Infrastructure



What is Advanced Metering Infrastructure, or AMI?

Advanced Metering Infrastructure, or AMI, is the term used to describe the full set of technologies and systems that create two-way communication between consumers’ electrical meter and the utility’s billing, distribution and control systems. Historically, information and energy have flowed in one direction only – from the utility to the meter. With AMI, Southern Pioneer Electric Company and its consumers will have the ability to share information about energy usage in real time and, as a result, boost efficiency.

How do the advanced meters work?

With these new meters, Southern Pioneer can read the meter remotely from our office. Information from the meter is transmitted back to us in daily increments. Transmitting this information electronically means that a meter reader no longer comes to your house in person.

Why are we changing to the advanced meters?

The meter upgrade provides Southern Pioneer consumers with numerous benefits. The new meters will help us:

  • Maintain competitive rates by reducing operating expenses
  • Improve billing accuracy, eliminating misreads or inaccurate readings
  • Pinpoint the exact location of outages more quickly, meaning a faster response time
  • Help our consumer troubleshoot high-bill problems by providing information about power consumption patterns, outage and blink count history and voltage information, reducing usage questions
  • Improve electric service reliability and power quality – fewer outages, blinks and surges
  • Help secure the overall safety of Southern Pioneer’s employee team

What’s the difference between advanced meters and the old meters?

The new meters are digital electronic devices while most of the old meters were an electro-mechanical device. The new meters will continue to display the meter reading, but it will be in a digital LED format. The biggest difference is that the new meters will have an electronic circuit board module installed. The module receives and stores the kilo-watt-hour (kWh) and demand consumption recorded by the electronics in the meter and is able to transmit securely this and other system data back to the Southern Pioneer’s computers.

What if my bill reports more kWh usage than normal or I think my meter is not working correctly?

In some instances, the old, mechanical meters that are currently in service are running slower than it should and therefore was giving artificially low usage readings. The new meters use electronics to measure usage and this may result in some consumers having higher bills despite no change in their behavior, a direct result of more accurate metering. With no moving parts to wear down, the new meters will provide more accurate readings for a longer period of time. Once the new meters are installed, all Southern Pioneer consumers will now be more fairly billed for the actual amount of electricity used.

Electronic meters are more accurate than analog or mechanical meters. The new meters installed have been tested and meet American National Standards Institute (ANSI) regulations.

The new meters allow for accurate readings and a consistent billing period.

Will meter readers ever need to come to read the meter manually again once the advanced meter is in place?

Probably not. Meter readers will no longer regularly need to spend valuable time traveling to every meter for a monthly read. All meter reads will be digitally transmitted back to the Southern Pioneer office.

What information does the advanced meter record?

The new meter records an electronic kWh reading, the date and time of energy usage, the overall peak demand of the electric account, if the meter has rotated backwards, and the number of times the meter has experienced a loss of power for any reason. In fact, the meter will record the date and time of light blinks and the length of the power outage.

What day of the month will the meters be read?

All of Southern Pioneer’s new meters can be read at a variety of times to obtain a history of account information. However, for billing purposes consumer bills will be read on monthly schedules.

Once employees no longer need to read the meter, can obstacles be constructed that may make the meter inaccessible?

No. Reasonable access to equipment still must be maintained. This allows for our personnel to either read or maintain the meter if necessary at reasonable times.

How will Southern Pioneer read the meters?

Southern Pioneer’s computer will communicate with the substation-installed equipment, which sends a request for one or more meter readings. The meter reading is sent back to Southern Pioneer via a secure network.

Will someone other than Southern Pioneer be able to read the new meter?

Meter manufacturers are incorporating security features and military-grade encryption technology into their meters, as recommended by national security experts. Our goal is to upgrade our electric distribution system to make it safer, more secure, and more reliable. Your new digital meter is part of this effort. Once your new digital meter is installed, Southern Pioneer will be able to tell if someone “tampers” with your meter because the meter will report any tampering attempts.

Will Southern Pioneer continue to do service inspections?

Routine inspections of all meters and services will continue in order to look for safety hazards, theft or other problems.

How secure will the advanced meters be?

The meter display is visible for consumers to be able to check their consumption. All other information and data stored in the meter is secure and the meter is sealed.

Can Southern Pioneer disconnect electric service using the advanced meters?

Yes, meters can have remote disconnect capabilities.

Will the advanced meter notify Southern Pioneer when the power goes out?

The meters will be able to record outages allowing Southern Pioneer to verify whether the outage is either on the consumer’s side of the meter or Southern Pioneer’s.