Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) FAQ's
Q: Why is La Plata Electric Association, Inc. (LPEA) changing out all its meters?
A: The new meters being installed by LPEA offer features that will allow you to better understand your electrical consumption and make more informed decisions regarding your usage. The meters will also provide LPEA with important diagnostics that will help increase power quality, increase ways to optimize the electrical system, and pinpoint outages. The new metering system will also produce significant savings to LPEA members over the cost of the current meter system by reducing meter reading expenses and administration of some metering programs.
Q: Why doesn’t LPEA continue to use its existing automatic metering system?
A: LPEA’s existing metering system has reached the end of its life and replacement parts are no longer available.
Q: What kind of meters will LPEA be installing?
A: LPEA will be installing solid state meters with a Tantalus communications module. Tantalus is a wireless communications system that primarily uses ½-watt radios at 900 MHz frequencies to transmit data.
Q: How is this going to benefit me?
A: Among the many efficiencies on LPEA’s side that benefit the entire membership, the new meters will assist our members and staff troubleshoot high-bill problems by providing information about power consumption patterns, outage and blink count history and voltage information. They will also improve billing accuracy, eliminating misreads or inaccurate readings.
Q: Who will be receiving a new meter?
A: All LPEA members will receive a meter upgrade by the end of 2018.
Q: Will LPEA have a provision to opt-out of receiving a new meter?
A: Yes, LPEA is in the process of establishing an opt-out provision for members who do not want to participate in the metering upgrade. More details on this will be coming in June.
Q: What data will LPEA retrieve from the meter?
A: LPEA meters are programmed to retrieve voltage and kilowatt-hour readings. The meters will also notify LPEA in the event of meter tampering, as well as pinpoint the location of outages more quickly, meaning a faster response time.
Q: Will LPEA control appliances within the customer’s home?
A: The only appliances that will be controlled by LPEA are those that the customer voluntarily decides to allow LPEA to control, such as ETS heaters and water heaters. Control of these appliances will not be performed by the meter but a separate device.
Q: Are LPEA’s new meters capable of net metering?
A: No, not yet. Net metering functionality should be available towards the end of 2018.
Q: Will LPEA be able to offer pre-pay services with the new meters?
A: Yes. Using an optional rate, the Tantalus metering system can communicate your daily account balance back to the meter. Unlike LPEA’s existing pre-pay system, there will be no need to place money on your swipe card at our office. You will have the ability to transfer money to your account over the phone.
Q: Will more Time-of-Use options become available with the new meters?
A: Yes. Time-of-Use billing currently depends on the meter keeping track of on and off-peak usage. With the new metering system, Time-of-Use schedules will be applied to the interval data at the office. Using this method, if the Time-of-Use hours change, we will not need to visit the meter to reprogram it. It will also give LPEA the ability to offer new Time-of-Use programs and easily move a member from one program to the other upon their request.
Q: I currently use my Time-of-Use meter to control loads in my home. What options will I have with the new meters?
A: A portion of existing Time-of-Use meters come equipped with a control wire that some members use to control their water heaters and ETS heaters. The new meters will not have this control wire and another method of controlling the load will need to be used. There are a variety of solutions that can be used depending on your specific situation. If you are currently using the meter control wire, LPEA will be contacting you before exchanging your meter to discuss the solution that will best fit your needs.
Q: How quickly will LPEA exchange the meters?
A: LPEA will begin exchanging meters in June 2016 and the deployment should be completed by the end of 2018.
Q: Can I request that my meter be installed sooner?
A: No. We will be exchanging the meters in the most efficient way possible to build out the Tantalus wireless network. Unfortunately, we will not be able to accommodate member requests for an early installation.
Q: Will the metering network be secure?
A: Yes. LPEA considers privacy and security a top priority. We treat each member’s personal information and data as confidential. LPEA can only share a customer’s data with someone else if the customer gives us written permission, or if we receive a court order to do so. The Information Technology (IT) security controls LPEA has in place reflect energy industry best practices. They are designed to provide a very high level of assurance that our systems cannot be compromised.
Q: How do I know that my meter is measuring accurately?
A: LPEA meters are tested at the manufacturer and then a sample is tested again by LPEA before they are installed. Accuracy results from testing have shown that digital meters are more accurate than analog, or spinning dial meters. Meter accuracy is mandated by state and federal regulations.
Q: How will my billing be affected by the meter exchange?
A: The first month following the meter exchange, members will receive a bill with two readings: one for the old meter and one for the new meter. It is possible that due to the timing of the meter exchange, more than 30 days of usage will be represented on the first bill resulting in a higher than normal billing. If this occurs, the following month will contain a few less days to make up for the difference.
Q: How much radio frequency (RF) power is emitted from the meters?
A: Extremely little. The Tantalus meters have been tested in accordance with Title 47, Part 15b of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, and have been certified by the FCC. When the meter is transmitting, the exposure to radio frequencies is more than 25,000 times less exposure limits set by the FCC.
Q: How much is this going to cost me?
A: There will be no additional costs to our members to install the new meters.
Q: Will I see a meter reader on my property?
A: A meter reader will not be visiting your meter for a monthly reading. LPEA personnel may, however, occasionally come by to inspect the system. If anyone appears to be accessing your meter, and they haven’t identified themselves as an LPEA employee, call LPEA immediately.