There is more and more news from across the country about smart meters. Many of the claims that are being made may be causing concern for some of the members of Joe Wheeler EMC. Hopefully, this discussion will answer some of the questions that you might have about smart meters.
There were several reasons that JWEMC chose to install smart meters.
- Lower operating costs: Smart meters help us reduce the costs of reading your meters each month. Joe Wheeler EMC spent close to $550,000 per year to read meters. Those costs went away as the smart meters were installed.
- Efficiency: The smart meter system was integrated into our outage management system to help determine where outages are more quickly.
- Improved accuracy: Smart meters help us serve you better. Smart meters eliminate the need to physically read the meter. Smart meters assure we have accurate readings every month, providing customer service representatives with up to the minute information to help answer your questions when you inquire about your account.
No, the meters that we installed do not use radio or cellular communications. The meters communicate through the power lines. The power line acts as the communications link.
The meter contains a memory chip that records consumer usage every 15 minutes. We collect that data at least once per day to use in preparing your monthly power bill.
No, we cannot tell whether you are watching television, cooking, washing clothes or any other activity that you might do in your home.
The short answer is no. JWEMC has a responsibility to each of you to keep information regarding your account confidential. Your consumption data is not shared with any other organization or the government. Joe Wheeler EMC did not use government grants or loans to fund the installation of the smart meters. The co-op did not want to be obligated in any way to share information should the government ask us to do so.
The co-op utilized internally generated funds to pay for approximately 60% and borrowed money from cooperatively owned banks for about 40% of the cost of buying and installing the smart meters.
No, the meters are not set up to turn your appliances on or off. What happens inside your home is your business, not ours. It is our belief that you, the consumer, are the best person to determine when and how you use electricity. Consumers should be able to use as much power as they can afford to pay for. JWEMC’s job is to deliver that power to your home or business. To control your appliances, both the consumer and JWEMC would have to make additional investments. The consumer would have to buy a smart appliance that had some sort of communication interface. And, JWEMC would have to spend money to upgrade the meters that we have installed to be able to communicate with your appliances.
The smart meters are the property of Joe Wheeler EMC. Even though we do not read your meters in person, we still require that you grant us access to the meter.