Customer Service Upgrades
Santee Cooper is investing in our grid to improve your customer experience by making three major technology upgrades. These three advances will work together to provide you with more information, more ways to manage your energy use, and more control over energy consumption.
1. Install Smart Meters (2020 through 2021)
Smart meters are more reliable, accurate and efficient than standard electric meters. They can send your energy usage directly to us over a data management system (see #2), eliminating the need for a meter reader to physically read your meter, which helps save you money.
2. Deploy Meter Data Management System (Spring 2020 to Summer 2021)
The meter data management system will collect information from the smart meters and transport your usage to our billing system.
With this change, you may notice the monthly meter start and stop information is no longer displayed on the bill. Instead, the smart meter is “doing the math” and showing you total consumption for the billing period. Once we complete an upgrade to our MEL customer portal in early 2022, daily usage information will be available to you anytime you log in.
3. Upgrade MEL Customer App (December 2022)
If you haven’t signed up for our MEL app yet, we encourage you to do so. The MEL upgrade is scheduled to go live in December 2022. It will connect you to more detailed energy information, giving you the information you need to take control of your usage, which could help you become more energy efficient and ultimately help lower your energy bill.
Frequently Asked Questions
Knowledge is power. We are upgrading our systems to give you more information so you can make decisions on how you use power. By having access to your daily usage, you’ll know when you use power most and can adjust how you use electricity in your home or business to help save money.
We have upgraded most customer meters to smart meters. In addition to giving you access to your daily electricity use, your smart meter sends real time usage information to us. This means a meter reader won’t need come to your house each month, which helps save money.
The meter data management (MDM) system will go live in early July 2021. This means beginning in July you will see your total electricity usage for the month on your bill, instead of a specific meter reading. After the MDM “go live,” we will begin working to integrate your daily usage into our customer portal, MEL. We expect to have MEL upgraded by late-2022, giving you that additional easy insight into how you use electricity. If you have any questions about your usage or would like tips on how you can save energy, click here, call us at 800-804-7424 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Residential Bill Display
Commercial Bill Display
During the 20th century, meter technology did not experience many changes. The old mechanical meters were only capable of measuring kilowatt hours of energy used. Smart meters provide energy utilities with information to improve efficiency and reliability and enable new programs for our customers.
A smart meter is an energy measurement device that helps provide customers with timely information about their energy usage and utilities with information about system efficiency. It confirms how much energy is used, when it is used, the number and duration of power interruptions, voltage levels and other information for efficient and reliable energy delivery. Part of a communication network between utilities and customers, smart meters enable automated meter readings, outage detection, timely usage information, pricing and power-quality monitoring. When combined with new MDM and MEL technologies, we can better serve you.
Our smart meters communicate using radio frequency (RF) to receive and transmit information. They are part of a mesh network where each meter acts as a router to transmit signals from other meters to and from Santee Cooper. This information is transmitted in a matter of milliseconds at power levels less than half of a smartphone.
With access (via a concurrent MEL upgrade) to daily energy usage information, customers can better understand and take control of your energy consumption, which can help you save on monthly bills. Since smart meters work on a smart grid, power outage detection and notification is automatic and faster. Smart meters also provide these additional benefits:
- automatic meter readings
- more accurate and timely billing
- better power quality and reliability
- faster power restoration
- lower power costs
Smart meter technology has been thoroughly tested for accuracy and reliability by manufacturers, energy utilities and U.S. and Canada standards organizations. In fact, ongoing tests have shown smart meters are often more accurate than analog meters. Our smart meters are built to the 0.2% accuracy class, which is the highest accuracy standard for electrical meters.
No. Electric meters are owned, installed and maintained by Santee Cooper. The meter base and service entrance cables are the customer’s responsibility. A qualified electrician should make repairs to the meter base and service entrance cables to ensure the system provides safe and reliable service.
When data is collected from a meter and transmitted wirelessly to Santee Cooper, it contains unique identifiers associated with the customer’s meter number and service address. These fields are validated numerous times to ensure accuracy. This process is similar to mobile phone technology where each phone has a unique number used to identify a cell tower and connect your call to the correct location. We abide by stringent policies to protect the privacy and security of our customers’ personal information. We do not sell customer data to any third party. The data from smart meters is strictly confidential and only used for electrical distribution, monitoring and billing purposes.
Yes. Utilities are subject to standards developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) designed to ensure security of utility networks. The energy utility industry has extensive experience in maintaining cybersecurity on information systems essential to operate the smart grid, including smart meters. Protection begins at the meter itself. To prevent data breaches, information is encoded any time your data is transmitted. We take all reasonable and necessary steps to ensure the services we provide use validated and proven security measures.
Smart meters and communication networks are certified to federal standards for safe and secure operation. As electrical devices with communication capabilities, smart meters do emit energy. However, these emissions are well below the limits set by the Federal Communications Commission for safe operations. In fact, they have much lower emissions than many common household devices (ex. microwave ovens, cell phones and internet routers).
No. Smart meters must meet National Electric Safety Code requirements and standards. They are also required to have independent certifications verifying their safety and heat resistance. Smart meters are certified by Underwriter Laboratories, the leading product safety testing and certification organization, to failsafe in the event of an electrical shortage. In addition, the base plate of the meter is designed to withstand extreme temperatures (up to the melting point of copper).
With the rise of smartphones, smart home technologies and clean energy solutions like electric vehicles, grid modernization is essential to keep up with today’s requirements. A smarter power grid will give utilities the ability to meet today’s energy needs and help keep power affordable for consumers.
Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) is essential to the smart grid. It comprises these key elements: smart meters, intelligent sensors, communication networks and data management. AMI is the network that enables automated, two-way communication between energy utilities and consumers. It has the power to transform how energy utilities and consumers manage electricity generation, delivery and usage.