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Automated Meters FAQ

North Georgia EMC installed automated meters in 2012 to improve the efficiency and reliability of our electric system.  This guide provides answers to commonly asked questions about Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI):

What is the difference between automated meters and non-automated meters?

All electric meters record electricity usage in kilowatt hour (kWh) readings. Automated meters allow North Georgia EMC to read the meters remotely without having to send meter readers to the location, and they help us respond to power outages quicker. With the aid of other automatic devices installed along our distribution lines, we also monitor and regulate the distribution voltage across our entire service area.

If members have a question about their energy use, the AMI system allows Member Services Specialists to obtain a reading almost instantaneously. Readings are displayed in a digital format on the face of the meters.

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How do automated meters work?

Kilowatt hour and voltage readings are secured, encrypted and sent back to the cooperative by radio frequency. Transmitting this information electronically means that a meter reader no longer comes to your house.

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What information is recorded by automated meters?

Automated meters record kWh usage just like other electric meters.  In addition, automated meters record the overall peak demand of the electric account.

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Why does North Georgia EMC use automated meters?

AMI provides numerous benefits. Automated meters help us:

  • Save money by eliminating the labor and transportation costs of in-person meter reading.
  • Pinpoint the exact location of outages more quickly.  
  • Answer electricity use questions by providing information about power consumption.
  • Monitor system operations and perform power quality maintenance.
  • Connect and disconnect meters remotely, further reducing operational costs and promoting more efficiency.

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

Contact your nearest co-op office right away to discuss your billing concerns. Automated meters have been tested and meet American National Standards Institute (ANSI) regulations.

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Do automated meters require manual readings or maintenance? 

While meter readers no longer travel to every meter for a monthly read, utility personnel still need access to the meter for routine maintenance or repairs. The meters will periodically be read manually for test purposes.

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What day of the month are the meters read?

NGEMC meters are read and billed according to assigned cycle. The reading date, billing date, and due date does not change from month to month.

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Since co-op employees do not come on site to read the meter, can I block the meter from view or construct obstacles that make the meter inaccessible?

No. Reasonable access to equipment still must be maintained. This allows cooperative personnel to access the meter for routine maintenance or repairs and to disconnect meters in case of emergencies.

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How does the co-op read the meters?

The cooperative communicates with the meter over a secure radio frequency network, once daily under normal circumstances.

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Are there any potential health impacts from a meter that can receive and send data?

No.  Research conducted by the Electric Power Research Institute, the Utilities Telecom Council and others has revealed no health impacts from radio frequencies emitted by automated, digital meters.  The technology meets all federal guidelines.

An automated meter equipped to send and receive data has an energy level hundreds of times less than the energy level of cell phones – and the meters are installed on the outside of your house not next to your ear!

Also, contrary to some misconceptions, automated meters emit radio frequencies (RF) only when responding to a request for data from the co-op office. This communication takes a few seconds and is performed nightly.  Compare this activity to a laptop with a wireless connection, which is constantly sending and retrieving data.

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Does the co-op do service inspections on the meter?

Routine inspections and periodical manual readings of all meters and services are done in order to look for safety hazards, theft or other problems.

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Are automated meters secure?

All meters are sealed and the display is visible, allowing members to check their kWh consumption.  All reading data that is transmitted to the cooperative’s control center is encrypted and secure, and it is subject to the same privacy laws and confidentiality policies as all other member information. AMi is part of an ongoing effort to upgrade and maintain our electric distribution system to keep it safe, secure and reliable.

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Can the cooperative disconnect and re-connect electric service using AMI?

Yes, the meters have these capabilities.

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Does the automated meter notify the co-op when the power goes out?

While the meters are equipped with this functionality, other system improvements must happen before automatic communication can take place between the meter and our Outage System. Until these enhancements are complete, communication between the meter and the Outage System is initiated manually by the Dispatcher. During widespread power outages or storms, our Dispatchers can call an individual meter to ensure power is restored. At some point in the future, integration of all our communication systems will allow the meters to automatically alert us of power outages.  

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