“People read a lot on the internet. It’s not all true,” Cochard said. “There are a lot of falsehoods.”
Among these misconceptions are that these meters cause harm through the radio frequency they use; the 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 to 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 a timeline if an issue arises. Then we can review the information with our energy advisor to help make your home more energy efficient.
- They have 100 percent 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.
“It’s used across the cooperative, whether in billing, metering or engineering,” Cochard said. “Our ultimate goal is to improve our meter technology to benefit members.”
Noble REMC first transitioned to advanced metering in 2002, and then rolled out an updated system in 2013. Before this technology, mechanical metering meant a lot of maintenance for gears that eventually wore down and the commitment of a meter reader to write down use 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, Noble REMC aims to stay at the forefront to guarantee members receive the best service we can provide.
Note: Be sure to read Electric Consumer’s career profile next month as it profiles Noble REMC Meter Technician Brad Wentworth.
Myth vs. Truth
Advanced metering causes cancer: MYTH
While some advanced metering relies on a radio frequency to communicate with us, not all do. Yes, radio frequency is labeled as a “possible carcinogen” by the World Health Organization, because it does let off a minute 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. 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 Noble REMC are the only ones who will have access to that information, as regulated 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.