January 18, 2019

Smart Meter Installation Ramps Up in 2017

Smart meters at SMECO

Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative has begun a campaign of smart meter installation across the region, with the help of contractor Utility Partners of America.

All new homes and businesses will be getting smart meters from here on, and if an existing meter needs to be fixed, it will be replaced with a smart meter. The meters are capable of two-way communication, making it possible for SMECO to respond to outages much more quickly.

The region already has 17,000 smart meters installed, and the plan for 2017 is that Utility Partners of America will install close to 14,000 smart meters per month. If a customer member is going to receive a new meter, they will receive a postcard and brochure before it is installed. Be sure to provide safe access for the installer by clearing anything that obstructs the meter. Trim bushes, move items that might be in way, and unlock any gates. Keep pets away from the meters.

When a UPA employee arrives to install the meter, he or she will knock on your door to let you know about the exchange, and then the power will be out for five or 10 minutes.

You can check the SMECO website any time to see where meter installations are scheduled.

If a residential or small commercial customer member wants to opt out of receiving the smart meter, they can call SMECO at 1-888-440-3311. Opting out of the smart meter will cause an extra initial fee of $75 and a monthly fee of $17. Customers who receive the smart meters are not charged any additional fee.

Even if a site opts out of the smart meter, they will still receive a new digital meter that is compatible with SMECO’s upgraded technology. Many existing meters are close to 40 years old, so the smart meter transition is being used as an opportunity to remove existing meters, review the condition of the meter base and do any needed service to conductors.

Safe, smart, and secure

Smart meters will help the region use less energy, improve the reliability of the electric system, and increase operational efficiency. Smart meters make it possible for customers to see how much energy they use at different times of the day. It also tells SMECO when you have a power outage, when voltage is too high and when it is too low. All of this adds to the system’s reliability.

Reading meters will now take minutes rather than hours. The communication of the meters eliminates unnecessary trips, saving gas, and reducing emissions. This is a cost-saving measure for labor and transportation, as well as employee safety.

The meters will measure the energy use of the entire house. They cannot measure the use of an individual appliance and cannot control your appliances. They use several techniques to provide security, including data encryption, and they operate on SMECO’s secure and private radio network.

Privacy Protected

Your privacy is protected. SMECO currently has cyber security plans and privacy policies in place to protect customer data. And, because your privacy is important, SMECO’s privacy policy prevents customer data from being sold to a third party.

Smart meter communication happens through radio waves that send a brief pulse less than five seconds each day. They use less wattage than a cellphone or baby monitor and the majority of the output is directed away from the house.

Questions?

If you have any questions, call SMECO’s customer care representatives at 1-888-440-3311 or visit the website listed above. SMECO also will be holding open houses.

  • Prince Frederick open house: 4 to 7 pm Jan. 26, 2017
  • Leonardtown open house: 4 to 7 pm Feb. 9, 2017
  • Hughesville open house: 4 to 7 pm Feb. 23, 2017

To learn more about SMECO, please visit its Leader Member Page.

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