HomeWorks uses an automated metering system that provides several benefits to our members:
- We can read meters every month without sending a meter reader and vehicle to each meter location.
- We can obtain a meter reading instantly at our office in case of billing questions or transfers.
- We can track outages, voltage levels and blinking lights, which also helps as we develop future workplans to maintain and upgrade the electric distribution system.
- We can verify power has been restored before our crews leave an area.
About Automated Metering
Automated Metering works through a circuit board located within the electric meter, which transfers information from the meter to a server. The server uses the information to create profiles for each of our 26,000 member accounts, including daily meter readings, meter voltage, and more.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is AMR, and how does it work?
AMR stands for Automated Meter Reading. HomeWorks installed communications equipment on our system that allows data to be sent back and forth between your meter and our offices. As you use electricity, your meter records the usage. A circuit board inside the meter transmits this information upon request to our office, where it is downloaded into our customer information and billing systems.
What is AMI?
AMI stands for Automated Metering Infrastructure. It is the overall system of meters, computers, and data that includes Automated Meter Reading (AMR), which provides a great deal of information to the cooperative to help us maintain reliability and serve you better.
How will this system benefit me as a HomeWorks customer?
AMI will help us reduce estimated meter readings. Other benefits include the ability to obtain a meter reading instantly at our office in case of billing questions or transfers; far less need for HomeWorks employees to come onto your property; more detailed information about electric outages; and the ability to verify that power has been restored before our crews leave an area.
We can also use the voltage recordings provided by the system to help us identify power lines that may need to be upgraded or replaced.
How much did the AMI system cost? Is it really needed?
Because of savings due to reduced transportation and labor costs, the system actually pays for itself over its projected lifetime. And, it will help HomeWorks continue to provide reliable electric service, personal customer service, and competitive electric rates.
How much did this project cost the member-owners?
There was no additional cost to install the system, as the cost savings will pay for the project. However, if during any meter change-out your equipment is considered to be dangerous or faulty, we will inform you and either replace parts as needed, or request that you call in an electrician to bring your side of the meter into compliance with nationally-recognized safety standards. You are required as a member-customer to keep your electric equipment in safe, working order.
Who receives AMI service?
Almost every member-customer of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative has an AMI meter (we have about 12 specialty meters in service that are not upgradeable to the AMR technology.) Note: none of the automated meter reading technologies we reviewed will read 100% of a system's meters, for various reasons. We have retained some part-time meter readers to pick up the 4% of our system that does not read reliably.
Is AMI technology really that much faster?
With this system, HomeWorks Tri-County can usually bring meter reading information and other electronic data back from the member-owner’s location to the Cooperative office in less than six (6) seconds.
What does the new AMI meter look like?
The meter’s exterior appearance is like a typical electronic (digital) meter, with a screen that updates every few seconds. The screen scrolls 8s and then flashes the digital meter reading. The only difference is that an AMI electronic circuit board module is installed inside the meter.
What are the physical components installed for AMI to work?
The AMR system consists of three main components:
Meters – Each existing meter has been replaced with a new AMI enhanced meter that contains an integrated AMI circuit board.
Collection Equipment – AMI collection communications equipment is being installed in our substations and on our distribution lines.
Computer System – An AMI data server has been installed in the Cooperative’s office at Portland.
How is the AMI device in my meter powered?
AMR devices use electricity from HomeWorks Tri-County’s side of the meter. You are not charged for this electricity.
Do I have to pay for the device on my meter?
There is no additional charge to you for the installation or use of AMI service.
What if I have a separate dual fuel meter?
The meter has been exchanged for an AMR meter. You continue to receive our discounted dual fuel electric rate and your specified electric loads remain eligible for control during peak periods.
What about my propane meter? Is it also part of this project?
Your propane meter continues to be read manually. We are looking at technologies that will enable us to read propane meters remotely but no decisions have been made yet.
How does HomeWorks Tri-County read the meters?
Computers at our office contact the collector equipment and signal this equipment to request one or more meter readings. A reading request signal is sent and the AMI meter responds back with the readings. The entire process usually takes less than six seconds for a single meter reading.
Will these new meters notify HomeWorks Tri-County if the power goes out?
No, the meter will not call us; we call it when we need information. You should call 1-800-848-9333 to report a power outage or other emergency situation. The meters will be able to record outages which may allow us to verify whether the outage is on your side of the meter, or on ours.
What information does the AMI meter record?
The meter records a kilowatt-hour reading and the overall peak demand. It also records the date and time of energy use, if and when the lights blinked and, in case of an outage, how long the power was off and when it was restored.
Can HomeWorks tell which appliances are operating through these automated meter readings?
No, we cannot tell how you are using electricity - watching TV, cooking, washing clothes, etc. - just that you are using it.
Is my account information secure? How will I know that you have my reading and not someone else’s?
While the meter display is visible for you to be able to check your energy use; all other information stored in the meter module is secure and the meter is sealed. Each meter has a unique identification number which is transmitted along with the meter reading. This number is compared to your account record to ensure a match.
Will my meter information be shared with the government or anyone else?
No. We have a responsibility to each of our member-customers to keep the information regarding your account confidential. Your individual data is not shared with any other organization or the government. Aggregated data for an entire class of users (such as residential, general service, or irrigation) may be used in financial reports or used by an outside agency to help us determine system needs.
Will AMR service interfere with my radio, telephone, computer, television, phones, wireless internet access, pacemaker, invisible fence or other equipment?
No. The transmitting device operates in compliance with FCC regulations to avoid interference with other electronic devices. The AMR system operates independently at a low-power frequency reserved for this purpose and should not interfere with other equipment.
Can HomeWorks turn my appliances on or off?
The meters are not set up to turn your appliances on and off. They can be used, if you agree in writing, to participate in our water heater or dual fuel heating and cooling load management programs.
On what day of the month are the meters read?
Automated meters allow HomeWorks to read them at a variety of times to obtain a history of account information. For billing purposes, your monthly billing cycle will remain the same.
Does AMI change the date I am billed during the month?
Members see no difference in the timing or billing method for their electric use.
Will HomeWorks still check the meter regularly?
Routine inspections of all meters and services in accordance with HomeWorks’ policies and industry standards will continue to ensure meters are in proper working condition and to look for safety hazards, theft or other problems.
If no one has to read the meter, does it still need to be accessible?
Yes. According to our member agreement and industry safety standards, reasonable access to equipment still must be maintained. An accessible meter is important in case of fire, as well.
What if my bill reports more kWh usage than normal or if I think my meter is not working correctly?
Call us at 1-800-562-8232 right away to discuss your billing concerns. All new meters are tested at the factory to ensure that they register properly.
Can I keep track of my electric usage online once the new meter is installed?
Yes. Through the SmartHub web page, or by installing the SmartHub app on your iOS or Android device, you have access to your account information including energy usage history.
Whom can I contact if I have additional questions?
If you have additional questions about automated meter reading, you can contact our Customer Service representatives at 1-800-562-8232.