What is a Smart Meter, Anyway?

Also known as Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), smart meters are digital meters that measure and record electricity usage data hourly, or more frequently, and allow for remote two-way communication between utilities and the meters.

AMI or AMR Meters: What are the differences?
AMR uses a radiofrequency (rf) signal (much like your cell phone) to broadcast the meter’s usage data (in kWh) and serial number. No personally identifying information is shared. The signal is picked up by a receiver mounted to the roof of a truck which drives by on a monthly basis.
AMI also broadcasts meter usage data and serial numbers via rf, but instead of being sent to a truck, the info is sent via the cloud to the utility. No trucks needed. Unlike AMR, AMI allows the utility to send a signal back to the meter, enabling remote disconnect and reconnect, load sharing, and instant outage reporting.

Does the PUD have Smart Meters now?

Depends on who you ask. The PUD has over 19,000 electrical meters. 67% of them are analog, and 33% are digital. All are equipped with cellular Automated Meter Reading (AMR) modules. PSE installed the modules years before the PUD began electrical operation. The EMF Safety Network declares AMR meters smart meters, others do not. AMR is a one-way communication system. AMI is two way.

Why is the PUD exploring Smart Meters?

Jefferson County PUD has been exploring a full replacement of its electrical metering system since first taking control of the power grid in 2013. Staff have described the current system as “failing,” “hodge-podge,” and “widely inaccurate,” with up to 2/3 of the meters under reporting by 3-5%. Smart or AMI meters offer a number of reliability and performance advantages. They are also the current industry standard for metering worldwide.

What are the Benefits of Smart Meters?

Instant Responses: Smart meters automatically and instantly alert the utility to outages, no phone calls necessary. They also enable the utility to disconnect or reconnect power remotely, without the delay and cost of sending trucks and crew.
Improved Reliability: Smart meters in conjunction with a smart grid enable the PUD to reroute power during outages, restoring power remotely and in minutes. Smart meters also enable groups of homes to share reduced capacity during extended power interruptions.
Increased Resiliency: In the case of an emergency smart meters allow the PUD to direct electricity to key locations such as emergency shelters, schools & emergency service providers.

Conserve Resources: In addition to eliminating the need for trucks to drive all over the county to collect meter data, smart meters also help utilities manage peak load and reduce the need for additional power generation. Hourly usage data allows customers greater awareness of and control over energy consumption.
Incorporate Alternatives: Smart meters provide the basic information and platforms for integrating new and alternative technologies like solar PV, wind, energy storage systems, electric vehicles, and connected home devices like smart thermostats and smart appliances.

Who else has Smart Meters in WA state?

Utilities in Washington State have employed smart meters for over a decade. The following WA utilities have either installed an AMI smart meter system or are in the process of doing so:

Benton PUD
Mason 3 PUD
Cowlitz PUD
Clallam PUD
Clark PUD
Grays Harbor PUD
Grant PUD

Okanogan PUD
Tacoma Power
Orcas Power & Light
Chelan PUD
Franklin PUD
Seattle City Light
Inland Power & Light
Puget Sound Energy

Portland General Electric finished their transition to AMI or smart meters in 2010, with only 10 customer requested opt-outs and over 850,000 smart meters installed. The Edison Foundation estimates 76 million smart meters installed in the US today. By 2020, more than 1 billion smart meters are anticipated worldwide.

What if I Don’t Want a Smart Meter?

Jefferson County PUD has an opt-opt program that provides an alternative metering technology for customers who do not wish to have an rf emitting smart meter installed on their home. A one time fee for both the non-standard meter and monthly fees for additional reading costs apply.

Meter Opt-Out Application Info