They’re sometimes called “smart meters” and the technology behind AMI, or “Advanced Metering Infrastructure” has been around since the late 1990s.
Now that technology is coming to Graham County Electric Cooperative, which plans to install AMI meters on half its systems by the end of this year and the rest of its systems by the end of 2024. A pilot program to install 300 AMI meters last year was successful and Members reported being happy with the switchover.
“It is using technology to read your meters remotely,” said Phil Cook, CEO and general manager of GCEC. Cook announced the timeline and discussed the benefits of AMI metering during the GCEC annual meeting on March 4.
“There’s benefits to the member, it allows us to access information remotely without needing to get into the yards to read the meter, disturb their dogs or disrupt their day, we don’t have to be in the location, and overall, it’s going to be more effective at a lower cost,” Cook said. Holding down costs in the long term helps the co-op hold down rates, Cook said.
The AMI meters interface with software back at the co-op to provide more accurate and timely information on energy use.
“We have locations 100 miles apart and we’ll be able to get the electric usage remotely, saving time and money driving to those locations, weather won’t be a factor, so it’s going to allow us to be more efficient,” Cook said.
One of the popular myths of smart meters is that they give the co-op the ability to monitor and restrict electricity usage and are somehow used to “look in to” homes and businesses, something Cook said simply isn’t possible.
“We’re receiving information, we’re not ‘pushing’ information; as far as anything on the Member’s side of the meter, we don’t have any control what happens on the member’s side of the meter – utilities or lights or otherwise,” Cook said. Some meters on the GCEC water system are 60 years old and many of those on the electric utility side are decades old, and need to be replaced, Cook said.
For more information GCEC has developed a page on its website at www.gce.coop; click on the Member Services tab on the menu bar at the top of the page, then click on Meter Maintenance and Upgrades.
“Our Members can also call the office and talk to any of us about their questions and concerns,” Cook said. “We’re always happy to talk about the technology and where we’re going with it.”