Advanced Meter Infrastructure

In an effort to upgrade electric metering equipment and continue a strong focus on customer service, Nebraska Public Power District will be replacing existing residential, commercial and industrial meters in 33 retail communities during 2018. This upgrade will involve 43,000 electric meters being replaced in NPPD retail communities.

The upgraded meter is equipped with two-way communication that is part of what is known as Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). This digital metering technology has been in use around the world for more than a decade. Most of the current meters in the identified communities slated for new meters are electro-mechanical devices. The new meters display the reading, but in digital LED format. The new meters will have an electronic circuit board module installed that will receive and securely transmit the data back to NPPD on the total amount of kilowatt hours used by a residence, business or industry.

So why is NPPD making the conversion to the AMI equipment?

NPPD believes the meter upgrades provides its customers with numerous benefits that include:

  • Maintaining competitive electric rates by reducing operating expenses.
  • Allowing NPPD personnel to automatically read electric meters from service centers, providing homeowners more privacy.
  • Pinpointing the exact location of outages more quickly, meaning a faster response time to restore power.
  • Helping customer service representatives troubleshoot billing concerns.
  • Improving electric service reliability and power quality for customers.
  • Increasing safety for NPPD’s employee teams when troubleshooting or handling routine maintenance.

In addition to the new meters, NPPD will also have numerous routers placed strategically in the community to relay the information to NPPD’s operations. There will be a short interruption of electric service while the new meter is installed.

NPPD will notify customers by phone, at the number on your account, ahead of the replacement. There will be a short interruption of electric service while the new meter is installed.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What can AMI’s do besides measure consumption? (Video)

How do the new meters communicate that real-time information? (Video)

Why is NPPD retail installing an AMI system? (Video)

Is the Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI) being installed safe?

Yes. Each meter is inspected according to the American National Standards Institute’s safety guidelines to ensure it meets or exceeds those specifications. These meters must also meet the requirements and standards spelled out in the National Electric Safety Code (NESC) and are tested by the manufacturer before they leave the plant. NPPD will also run tests on the meters to ensure accuracy.

What about data security and privacy?

AMI’s only transmit the total energy usage data of the associated residence, apartment or business. Transmission of the data is encrypted and secure. The privacy of your data is protected and NPPD constantly safeguards it. That will not change with the use of AMI’s. The only way a third party can receive your data is if you, the customer, provides NPPD with written permission to do so.

Utilities across the country work with national cyber-security organizations to regularly audit their systems to ensure privacy and security of AMIs. The privacy of your data is protected now and NPPD will work constantly to safeguard it in the future.

Are these meters a health threat because they communicate using wireless signals?

In-depth review of scientific literature by the World Health Organization revealed that the small amount of radio frequency (RF) energy produced by AMI’s is not harmful to human health.

RF emitted by AMI’s is well below the limits set by the Federal Communications Commission and it is below levels produced by other common household devices like cell phones, baby monitors, satellite TVs, and microwaves.

With over 25,000 articles published on the topic over the past 30 years, no credible evidence shows any threat to human health from RF emissions at or below the exposure limits developed by the FCC.

Can these meters control items or appliances in the home including air conditioners?

No. AMI’s that NPPD will be installing only measure energy usage. They do not monitor or control any appliances or electrical device inside the residence, apartment or business, nor can they tell whether the energy used is from your oven, air conditioner, hairdryer, etc.

Are the meters NPPD plans to use an invasion of privacy?

NPPD adheres to strict policies and regulations in its day-to-day operations and follows applicable laws on the use of personal information for business functions like billing and customer service. AMI’s are a landmark change allowing two-way communication between the utility and the customer, much like cell phones and banking. Utilities keep your data private and secure, similar to the industries previously mentioned.

Who will be installing the meters?

An NPPD technician, with appropriate District identification, will do the installation.

What if no one is home during meter installation?

If no one is home, or a business is closed, an NPPD employee will install the new meter, with typical installation taking about 10 minutes. NPPD will also contact customers ahead of time with a phone call to alert you that the new meters will be installed. When installation occurs there will be a short disruption to the power supplied to homes and businesses. If not at home during the installation, you may see digital clocks blinking and not displaying the correct time upon your return.

Are customers charged a different price for having a new meter?

No. There is no installation cost and the price of energy used remains the same.

Will NPPD be able to shut off electricity remotely at any time?

Service can be turned off remotely for routine requests, such as when an individual moves out, and for non-routine reasons. Disconnect capabilities are only available to NPPD.

If we are behind on paying our monthly bill, will NPPD still have a new meter installed?

Yes. NPPD remains committed to working with any customers who have bill payment difficulties.

Can NPPD restore electricity faster?

Yes. AMI’s allow us to initiate service much faster when a customer moves in or when service is reconnected – often in an hour or less. When power goes out due to weather conditions or through a localized outage due to a vehicle accident, a signal is sent indicating an outage and crews will be dispatched accordingly.

Will meter readers need to come and read the meter manually once the AMI’s are installed?

No. All meters will be able to transmit data back to NPPD. This will eliminate District employees needing access to backyards that may be fenced in, providing the homeowner more privacy.

Are there any benefits to consumers from using AMI’s?

There are a number of benefits for consumers (and NPPD) from the installation of AMI’s that include:

  • Maintaining competitive electric rates by reducing operating expenses.
  • Allowing NPPD personnel to automatically read electric meters from service centers, providing homeowners more privacy.
  • Pinpointing the exact location of outages more quickly, meaning a faster response time to restore power.
  • Helping customer service representatives troubleshoot billing concerns.
  • Improving electric service reliability and power quality for customers.
  • Increasing safety for NPPD’s employee teams when troubleshooting or handling routine maintenance.