Meet your meter

Posted on Mar 26 2019 in LaGrange County REMC

LaGrange County REMC began the transition to advanced metering more than 15 years ago, but myths continue to circulate about its technology and use.

LaGrange County REMC Meter Technician Gary Grogg is here to dispel these ideas.

Among the biggest misconceptions are that these meters cause harm through the radio frequency they use; data is given to the government to learn more about members; and they cost jobs, because they’re making meter readers obsolete.

None of these are true.

What is true are the benefits advanced meters give to our members and the operation of the cooperative:

The cooperative is alerted to outages within seven minutes, so we can then be onsite fixing the issue quicker.

The meter records use every 15 minutes, allowing us to pinpoint the moment an issue arises. Then, we can review the data with our energy advisor to help make your home more energy efficient.

They have near perfect accuracy and can detect when they’ve been tampered with, leading to less power theft.

It simplifies billing by providing us an opportunity to program different rates for residential, industrial, etc., directly into the system.

“This system gives us the opportunity to provide more accurate readings, while also lowering maintenance costs and alerting us to tampering within seconds, which the old metering system did not,” Grogg said. “It’s also allowed us to create a prepaid metering program for our members, which has been an asset in allowing us to keep power flowing by giving them the option to pay as they go.”

LaGrange County REMC first began transitioning to advanced metering in 2003 to improve irrigation members’ load control switches, which help to lower energy use during peak times to save money for both the members and the co-op. The system was then rolled out for residential and commercial members, with a second update of the advanced metering infrastructure finishing up in 2017.

Before this technology, mechanical metering meant a lot of maintenance for gears that eventually wore down and the commitment of a meter reader to collect data manually each workday. Advanced metering takes away these issues, with most maintenance boiling down to an accuracy test once every 10 years.

These meters ensure more accurate and reliable data, and as technology develops, LaGrange County REMC aims to stay at the forefront to guarantee members receive the best service we can provide.

Myth vs. Truth

Advanced metering causes cancer: MYTH

While some advanced metering relies on radio frequency to communicate with us, not all do. Radio frequency is labeled as a “possible carcinogen” by the World Health Organization, because it does let off a miniscule amount of radiation. But, this radio frequency is comparable to a garage door opener, baby monitor or wireless router. In these low amounts, it’s not a threat to human health. And you know what else is labeled a possible carcinogen? Coffee and pickled vegetables.

Advanced meters may be used to violate my privacy: MYTH

These meters are not surveillance devices. No personal information is stored by these meters. They do collect information about your energy use, but you and LaGrange County REMC are the only ones who will have access to that information, as outlined by the state.

Advanced metering creates jobs: TRUTH

Automatic meter reading decreases the need for meter readers, but not metering support services. Cooperatives offer jobs suitable for a variety of people with many different professional and skilled-labor backgrounds. Implementing advanced metering and monitoring the new data sustained jobs previously created by mechanical metering.