last modified: September 7, 2017 at 4:21:15 PM
“Advanced Metering Infrastructure with smart meter components.”
We get it. On the surface, it sounds like fancy meters with a technical name. You may be wondering, What’s in it for me? You may even have concerns about your health and security.
The integration of an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (we’ll be calling it an AMI system) with smart meters (the component of the AMI system ECI REC members will have installed) is a big change, and it’s one we are committed to being transparent about.
This is the first of a four-part series of articles ECI REC has written to provide our members with in-depth information about smart meters. In this series, we’ll cover the benefits of smart meters for our Cooperative and members, as well as health and security myths and facts. We’ve also put together a list of frequently asked questions.
The bottom line is this: By installing smart meters, members will benefit from a more affordable and efficient system. You will also have the chance to be empowered by detailed information about your electricity usage provided by your smart meter. Our hope is that you will use this information to make smarter energy choices and join us in Building a Smarter Cooperative, which helps ECI REC keep electricity affordable for all members.
To set the stage for smart meter installation, here is a recap of where ECI REC stands in terms of our system capabilities.
- We took significant steps toward building a rate structure based on members’ actual consumption when we restructured how we calculate our facility charge. However, our current method of collecting usage data restricts our ability to make the facility charge—and rate setting—even more accurate.
- ECI REC considered the smart grid within our long-term strategic plan, making sure our SCADA system and other technology upgrades would be AMI-compatible. By ensuring the components of the grid—from substations to switches to home electric meters—are capable of two-way communication, ECI REC can manage distribution more efficiently.
So while this all sounds logical, you may be thinking, Great, but why do we need a smart grid, anyway? According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the smart grid “will consist of controls, computers, automation, and new technologies and equipment working together … these technologies will work with the electrical grid to respond digitally to our quickly changing electric demand.”
The smart grid will reduce operations and management costs for cooperatives and utilities. In due course, consumers across the U.S. will benefit from lower power costs. And according to the Department of Energy, “A smarter grid will add resiliency to our electric power system and make it better prepared to address emergencies such as severe storms, earthquakes, large solar flares, and terrorist attacks.”
Smart meters are simply the next step in maximizing the capabilities and technology ECI REC has been planning for and implementing over the past decade. To put it in perspective, we would not consider going back to using kerosene lamps to light our homes now that we have access to safe and reliable electricity. In the same way, we are headed toward the electric grid of the future as we install our smart meters.
Please explore the other pieces in this series for more details:
Finally, the ECI REC team is here to address any questions you may have. As always, please feel free to call or email us for more information.