What is an AMI meter and how is it different from a standard meter?
Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) meters use the latest advanced metering and communications technologies. They transmit readings remotely over a private, secure wireless network. An AMI meter is the same size as your previous AMR meter and has an LCD display showing how much electric energy you have used. Aside from the amount of data collected, the AMI Meter has a receiver, not just a transmitter and can accept requests for data when needed.

What are the benefits of AMI meters?
All Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) meters on the system transmit meter readings back to our office on a predefined schedule and can be read remotely at any time through two-way communication. Other benefits include:

  • More efficient customer service and support
  • Improved handling of AMI meter accounts (i.e. disconnects, connects, re-connects, transfers of service)
  • Daily and hourly energy use available online to help consumers understand their bills and usage patterns
  • Faster detection of power outages and service issues
  • Lower operating costs by reducing the number of trucks on the road and visits to the meter location
  • Better data to plan, construct and optimize HEC's distribution system

How will the AMI meter impact my electric bill?
Your energy use and charges are not affected by the type of meter you have.  These meters are as accurate as the existing AMR meters.  AMI meters meet or exceed all applicable ANSI standards relating to metering accuracy.

How do AMI meters communicate with HEC?
HEC has selected an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system developed by Eaton/Cooper Power Systems, a global provider of metering solutions for electric utilities. Cooper's system uses a wireless RF Mesh network operating on 915 MHz license-free band to deliver meter reads and interval data daily from meters.

HEC will own and operate the communications equipment (gateways) installed on HEC utility poles throughout the city to enable two-way communication with the meters.

How does the AMI system benefit HEC operations?
AMI meters allow us to closely manage our power distribution system because we have more accurate and timely data. For instance, HEC is able to more accurately pinpoint under or over utilized transformers and energy theft.  By monitoring the voltage delivered to the customer, we can ensure that it meets their needs and our standards.  The automated system improves customer service, as a portion of connects, disconnects, re-connects and transfers of service may be handled remotely and immediately.  Reducing the number of trucks on the road also saves time and resources and helps contribute to cleaner air throughout our service area. During outages, HEC operators are also able to access information from individual meters to determine the length, range and severity of outages and more accurately deploy outage restoration crews.

How does the AMI technology work?
As a customer uses electricity, an electronic module located inside the meter, records the energy usage and periodically transmits the usage data and other information through an RF Mesh network to the closest gateway.  From the gateway location, the HEC fiber optic network will carry the information back to our office to be integrated into our billing and customer information systems.

Will the AMI service interfere with my radio, telephone, computer, television, phones, wireless internet access, invisible fence or other equipment?
No.  The transmitting device operates in compliance with FCC regulations to avoid interference with other electronic devices.  The AMI system only operates for short periods of time each day at a low power frequency reserved for this purpose and should not interfere with other equipment.  The meter’s radio frequency (RF) signal is not operated continuously.

Is my personal account information secure?
Yes.  Only meter readings and specific meter data are transmitted over a secure gateway to our office.  The AMI system does not transmit personal information.  Also, measures have been put into place to ensure that no personal identification information will be located at our AMI data portal.

I have heard these meters put off electromagnetic fields (EMF) or radio frequencies (RF).  Should I be concerned about that?
AMI meters emit a small fraction of radio frequency radiation as compared to the emission of a cell phone or other household devices and are well below regulatory limits established by the FCC.

It has been determined through extensive scientific research that there are no definite or proven biological effects from exposure to low-level RF signals.  Further, there is no credible evidence to suggest that advanced meters emit harmful amounts of EMF and that existing regulations of such devices are adequate for the protection of public health.

Sources for further information on this subject include the National Institute of Health (NIH) and California Council on Science and Technology (CCST).