We are investing in our grid and your electric service by upgrading to advanced meters, which will ultimately provide customers with more options to manage your energy usage. Meter installations are already underway. This is the first step in a three-pronged approach to help you manage your energy use, upgrade our system and become more efficient. These new meters are more reliable, accurate and efficient than a standard electric meter. They will communicate your energy usage directly to us, eliminating the need for someone to physically read your meter every month and thereby saving you money.
Santee Cooper will also deploy a meter data management system (MDM) and an upgrade to its MEL app, the second and third prongs of this initiative. Together, these new technologies will equip customers with more control over your energy consumption.
As we implement these new programs, you’ll see benefits including access to automatic outage communications to you on your smart phones and computers. In addition, you will be able to access your daily energy consumption, 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
We plan to have all of these programs in place by the end of 2021.
For more information about how advanced meters work, visit SmartGrid.gov.
Frequently Asked Questions
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. Advanced meters provide energy utilities with information to improve efficiency and reliability and enable new programs for our customers.
An advanced 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, advanced 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 advanced 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 advanced meters work on a smart grid, power outage detection and notification is automatic and faster. Advanced 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
Advanced 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 advanced meters are often more accurate than analog meters. Our advanced 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 advanced 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 advanced 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.
Advanced meters and communication networks are certified to federal standards for safe and secure operation. As electrical devices with communication capabilities, advanced 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. Advanced meters must meet National Electric Safety Code requirements and standards. They are also required to have independent certifications verifying their safety and heat resistance. Advanced 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: advanced 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.