Advanced Meters FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about Digital Meters

Roanoke Electric Cooperative (REC) is investing in new, digital meters to improve the efficiency and reliability of our electric system. Many member-owners have asked questions about these new meters and how they work. Here are the most common questions we have received and answers:

When will my meter be installed?

The installations started this summer. All meters will be replaced with new meters. It is expected to take 18 months to complete the replacement across our system.

Will I lose electrical service during the installation?

Yes, for a few minutes while the old meter is removed and a new meter is installed. You will need to reset electronic clocks and other devices.

How does my new meter work?

With these new meters, REC will continue to read the meter remotely from our central office. Information from the meter is transmitted back to the co-op electronically.

Why are we changing to the new meters?

The meter upgrade provides REC member-owners with numerous benefits. The new meters will help us:

Monitor the service to all of our member-owners to improve the quality of service provided
Reduce labor costs associated with the maintenance of the electric grid
Automatically pinpoint the exact location of outages, meaning a faster response time
Help our member-owners 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 and blinks
Help secure the overall safety of the co-op employee team
How much is this going to cost?
There will be no additional costs to the member to install the new system. There is no rate increase anticipated in association with this project.

What other additional installation parts will I need?

No additional parts are anticipated or required.

Do member-owner have a choice in getting a new meter?

No. New meters will be installed on all accounts. The co-op is embarking on a system-wide program that will change 100 percent of existing residential and commercial meters in order to acquire more accurate information and provide better service. The old meters are not compatible with the new system. The existing metering system provides limited information – primarily that which is used for bill purposes only. With the new system, member-owner service representatives can access the meter information and obtain the reading almost instantaneously.
Other features of the new system will provide engineering data that will enable us to monitor the system better and correct inefficiencies.

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

The new meters are digital electronic devices with a more efficient communication system compared to the old meters. They will continue to record the kilowatt-hour and demand data for billing purposes, as well as provide additional information about the electrical condition of the power grid.

Will I keep the same rate after the conversion?

Yes, member-owners will continue to stay on the same rate class as they have in the past. There will be NO increased cost to the member.

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

Contact the co-op office right away to discuss your billing concerns. Electronic meters are more accurate. 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.

What information does the new 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. The meters are equipped to notify REC when the power goes out, when it is restored and can provide engineering data.

What day of the month will the meters be read?

All of the co-op’s new meters can be read at a variety of times to obtain a history of account information. However, for billing purposes member bills will be read on monthly schedules.

Because the co-op employees do not read the meters manually, can obstacles be constructed that may make the meter inaccessible?

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

How will the co-op read the meters?

The co-op’s computer will communicate with the meter to the readings. The meter reading is sent back to the co-op via a secure network.

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 digital meters. The radio frequencies emitted by digital meters falls well below the maximum recommended in federal guidelines. Contrary to some misconceptions, the new meters emit radio frequencies (RF) only when responding to a request for data from the co-op office – either once every fifteen minutes or once every hour for less than a second. Compare this activity to a laptop with a wireless connection, which is constantly sending and retrieving data. A digital meter equipped to send and receive data has an RF density hundreds of times less than the RF density of cell phones – and the meters are installed on the outside of your house not next to your ear!

Will the co-op 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 new meters be?

Just like the old meter, the new meter display is visible for member-owners to be able to check their consumption. All other information and data stored in the meter is secure and the meter is sealed.

Can the co-op disconnect electric service using the new meters?

Yes, meters can have remote disconnect capabilities.

Will the new meter notify the co-op when the power goes out?

Yes, the meters will be able to notify the co-op when there is a power outage. It will also record outages and duration.