Advanced Metering Project - Eureka Springs

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SWEPCO is planning to install advanced digital meters for customers in Eureka Springs, Ark., in October 2020. Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) will replace a now outdated system originally installed in 2002-2003.

SWEPCO is committed to modernizing the electric grid – for greater reliability, enhanced customer service, innovative tools to help customers save energy and money, and a future that embraces more clean energy, electric vehicles and other advances in technology. Advanced digital meters, also known as smart meters, are a key component of SWEPCO’s grid modernization initiatives.

The AMI system uses advanced metering and secure wireless technology to provide timely and accurate meter reading data. As SWEPCO adds new home energy management tools, the AMI meters will give customers more information to manage their energy use and costs.

The AMI meters also will enable future capabilities like faster response to new service connections and other service requests, as well as automatic detection of power outages for a quicker start to repairs.

SWEPCO will provide information on the new system through this website, letters to customers, a virtual open house, social media and other communications. SWEPCO also will provide advance written notification to individual customers prior to installation at their home or business.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

What is an advanced digital meter, and what are its benefits?

An advanced digital meter, sometimes called a smart meter, uses advanced metering and secure wireless technology to communicate between the meter and the utility and provide timely and accurate meter reading data. As SWEPCO adds new home energy management tools, the AMI meters will give customers more information to manage their energy use and costs. The AMI meters also will enable future capabilities like faster response to new service connections and other service requests, as well as automatic detection of power outages for a quicker start to repairs.

Why is SWEPCO replacing the current metering system in Eureka Springs?

The current metering system in Eureka Springs is obsolete. While it was advanced when originally installed in 2002-2003, the system now includes older equipment for which replacements and parts are no longer manufactured, difficult to find or simply not available. Advanced digital meters are the next step to improving reliability and customer service, as well as empowering customers to more informed decisions about their energy use.

How will the installation of AMI meters take place in Eureka Springs?

Please see the Installation Q&A below.

Will customers be able to use information from the AMI meters to manage their energy usage?

Yes. Many electric meters provide monthly total energy usage, but AMI meters capture data at 15-minute intervals, providing customers a much more detailed look at how they use energy. They can make more informed decisions about how and when to use energy in order to save energy and money. As SWEPCO implements new home energy management tools, customers will be able to access their information by smart phone, tablet or laptop. SWEPCO expects to have basic home energy management tools for all customers available later this year, with the more detailed data from AMI meters available starting in 2021.

When will the future capabilities regarding service requests and outage detection be available?

We anticipate that the capability for remote completion of service requests, like new service connections, will be available by the end of 2020, and the outage detection capability will be operational in 2021.

Can the AMI meters tell SWEPCO how I’m using electricity inside my home or business?

No. AMI meters measure only how much energy you use and when you are using it. They cannot detect, identify or control a specific appliance or any other device that is using the energy.

Will customer account and usage information remain confidential?

Yes. The meters and the associated communication system are encrypted and equipped with security features to prevent unauthorized access. SWEPCO is required to comply with all federal laws regarding the privacy, protection and disclosure of personal information. State law prohibits SWEPCO from providing customer information to outside third parties without the customer’s express permission.

Will the communications system interfere with home equipment?

No. All communications equipment meets criteria set by the Federal Communications Commission and should not interfere with any equipment inside a home or business.

Are these meters safe?

Yes. Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI) and Automated Meter Reading (AMR) meters use radio frequencies (RFs) to communicate. RFs emitted by digital meters are well below that produced by other common household devices like cell phones, microwaves, baby monitors and home WiFi networks. The RFs are also well below the limit set by the Federal Communications Commission. The American Cancer Society has found no link between smart meters and cancer.

More information: SmartGrid Consumer Collaborative’s “Radio Frequency and Smart Meters”

Can a customer “opt out” if an advanced meter is not wanted?

Yes, subject to certain conditions. Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) meters will be SWEPCO’s standard meter in Eureka Springs. Customers may “opt out” by completing and returning the Advanced Meter Opt Out Acknowledgement Form. The non-standard device in Eureka Springs will be an Automated Meter Reading (AMR) meter, which is the same kind of meter installed throughout the rest of SWEPCO’s Arkansas service territory. SWEPCO anticipates that a one-time opt out fee and a monthly non-standard meter fee will be applied in the future, pending Arkansas Public Service Commission review. The charges will cover the additional cost of reading the non-standard meter.

What are the limitations of having a non-standard meter?

As the capabilities of AMI meters are enabled in Eureka Springs, customers with a non-standard meter will not have access to their near-real-time energy usage information through future energy management tools. Other future capabilities – like faster response to new service connections and other service requests, as well as automatic detection of power outages for a quicker start to repairs – will not be available.

How will the new meters be read?

AMI meters will be read automatically with no need for monthly visits by meter personnel. (Eureka Springs meters have been read automatically since the current system was installed in 2002-2003.) The non-standard meter will require meter personnel to drive to the vicinity and collect data with an on-board receiver in the utility truck.

Installation Q&A

When will the installation take place?

The installation is scheduled for October 2020. The project for approximately 1,700 customers in Eureka Springs should be completed in four to six weeks.

Will my power be interrupted during the installation?

You will experience a brief power outage when we replace the meter. We expect the power outage to be no longer than a few minutes.

What kind of notice will be provided to customers?

SWEPCO will provide written notification to individual customers prior to installation at their home or business.

Will personnel need to enter my property to install the meters?

Yes. We will notify customers in advance. We also understand that some meters have not been accessed in many years because the current system does not require regular visits by meter readers. We will work with customers regarding any concerns about access for the meter change-out.

Do I need to be home when you install the new meter?

No. A meter technician will leave a door hanger if access or other conditions prevent the meter installation. Arrangements for special circumstances will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Do I need to do anything special to get ready for my new meter?

You will be notified in advance when we will be in your area. Here are some helpful tips to prepare for the upgrade:

  1. Clear access to the meter. Please be sure there is a clear path to your meter and the area is free of other objects and debris. If you have a locked gate or other restrictions that would prevent our technicians from accessing the meter, please be sure to contact us.
  2. How to know it’s us. For your safety and security, all of our technicians will wear uniforms identifying themselves and will be able to produce proper identification. They will be in SWEPCO marked vehicles. These technicians will not need access inside your home and will not ask you for money or personal information.
What COVID-19 precautions will SWEPCO be taking during the meter installation process?

Our personnel will be practicing physical distancing, wearing face covering as required, along with other prevention measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition, we ask that customers help our personnel stay safe and healthy while working on the electric system – please keep at least six feet of physical distance between yourself and SWEPCO field personnel as we all play a crucial role in preventing the spread of coronavirus.

Who will install the meters?

We anticipate that SWEPCO personnel will install the meters, working from SWEPCO marked vehicles.

Will customers have to pay to have the new meter installed?

No. Customers will not be charged for installation of the AMI meter. Customers should be wary of any unverified communications received over telephonic, written, or electronic means requesting customer identification, banking or payment information, or subscription services for AMI product costs. If you receive such communications, or are approached by a party other than SWEPCO, please verify by calling SWEPCO to report the contact. If you believe you have been the victim of identify fraud related to deployment of AMI or any other electric service offered by SWEPCO please call the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (501) 682-2007 or (800) 482-8982.

Who do I contact if I have questions about installation?

Meter installation: Charlie Daniels, cwdaniels@aep.com, (479) 973-2341
Customer service: James Depew, jedepew@aep.com, (479) 973-2336