Over 15 years ago, LRE started implementing components of the Smart Grid. The Smart Grid is a combination of devices, computer programs and information gathering systems that link to quickly provide updated information and status of the electrical system.
Automatic Meter Infrastructure (AMI)
At The Energy Cooperative, we are constantly striving to provide greater value to our members. This involves exploring new sources of technology that will increase efficiency, provide better service and ultimately lower the cost of energy for members. What started in 2004 as a project to investigate the benefits of Automatic Meter Reading, or AMR, has now evolved into a full implementation of a cooperative-wide Advanced Meter Infrastructure, or AMI. The decision to move towards AMI was driven by advancements in smart grid technologies.
AMI two-way communications with the meter, resulting in better service to members. Historically, electric meters have been read manually which required employees to move from house to house to take a visual read of the meter. This traditional method has consumed time, manpower and money. By installing the new AMI system on members’ homes, data gathered by the AMI system can be transmitted electronically over existing power lines and delivered daily to our substations where the information is collected and communicated through various means back to The Energy Cooperative office for processing.
The first component was the Graphical Information System (GIS), which is a mapping system that contains a complete database of all facilities in the field. The GIS system uses information from the Consumer Information System and supplies information to the Engineering Analysis System. Six years ago LRE started the implementation of a Meter Information System, which is a system that reads the meter and brings back additional information concerning the status of the electrical system. In addition to daily meter readings, the system supplies peak loading information, and momentary or extended outage information. This system gives LRE a pathway to communicate cost of power and information to the member so they can be informed of when they use power and how much it is costing them. Approximately 64 percent of the meters have been changed to Smart Grid meters. LRE will continue to implement portions of the Smart Grid as the technology develops and when it is cost effective.
The Energy Cooperative is upgrading meters for our electric members, beginning in July of 2019. The upgrade is intended to increase efficiency and reliability of our electric system. Improving the efficiency of operations and how we deliver electricity helps to keep costs down for members. The meter installations will begin in the Hazelton Substation area and will continue throughout The Energy Cooperative’s service territory until completion in 2020.
Why Are the Meters Being Upgraded?
The Energy Cooperative is upgrading its meters to provide additional functionality, including increased remote options and hourly data retrieval.
Five Benefits You Will Notice
- Quicker Outage Response Times: The new technology will help our team monitor our electric grid in almost real-time. We will be able to quickly identify service issues such as increased usage issues, outages, and momentary outages. The team can then respond to those outages more efficiently than we can today. We will know your electricity is out before you report it.
- Lower Costs: The new meters will help The Energy Cooperative reduce costs by providing important efficiencies to the distribution grid, and reducing our response times and management—savings we pass on to our members.
- Power to Save: The meters, which provide hourly data about your power use, can help you understand how and when you are using electricity. This information can help you better manage and control your energy usage. Armed with this data, our member service representatives will have more information to help you address billing inquiries.
- Less Access to Your Property: Once the new meters are installed, The Energy Cooperative will be able to disconnect and reconnect service remotely, further limiting the need to access your property.
- Safety: Improvements in the distribution grid will secure the overall safety of cooperative employees.
How Will the Meter Replacements Work?
The Energy Cooperative is working with Anixter Power Solutions to install the new meters. We will notify members by phone in advance of their meter exchange. The installation process should take approximately ten minutes and will result in a brief outage. Members do not need to be home during the replacement, but should ensure there is a clear path to their meter and that pets are secured on the day of installation.
At The Energy Cooperative, taking advantage of new technologies is one more way that we can offer you new and creative services. This new meter system opens the door to future services we can offer our electric members.
Why Should You Use SmartHub?
SmartHub allows you to manage all aspects of your Energy Cooperative account. Use SmartHub to check your energy usage; pay your bill (or set up autopay); and report outages and service issues. You can also check your service status to verify we know about an issue you are experiencing real time.
How Do You Access SmartHub?
SmartHub can be accessed by a desktop computer, mobile phone or tablet device. To access SmartHub click My Account, found in the upper right hand corner of our website. If you have a mobile phone or tablet, download the SmartHub app for free.