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Smart Meters 101
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Smart Meters 101

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The way we use electricity in our daily lives is continually evolving. We rely on electricity to power our homes, appliances, businesses, and even our vehicles. The ever-changing needs of the average electric utility customer means utilities must keep evolving their metering methods and tools. One method that is growing in popularity is Advanced Metering Infrastructure, or AMI. While OPPD does not yet use AMI throughout its customer base, we are a learning organization and will remain committed to adapting and improving to better serve our customers.

What is AMI?

Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) is an integrated system of advanced “smart” meters, communications networks, and data management systems that enable two-way communication between utilities and customers. The use of AMI can provide several important automated functions that were not previously possible, like providing utilities the ability to measure electricity use, connect and disconnect service, detect meter tampering, identify outages and isolate their location, and monitor voltage remotely. When AMI is combined with customer-owned technologies (like smart thermostats), it can enable utilities to offer new time-based rates and/or incentive programs that encourage customers to reduce peak demand and manage their energy consumption and costs.

Why AMI?

According to the 2016 results of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG) Program, AMI has several potential benefits to electric utility customers:
  • Provides proactive communication to customers, notifying them of outages at their home or business and an estimated time of restoration
  • Grants customers the ability to see energy use in real-time and empowers them to take more control and ownership over their energy consumption
  • Allows electric utilities like OPPD to provide communications to customers in the method they prefer
AMI is becoming more common in utilities across the U.S. These systems provide many benefits to the utility, as a whole:
  • Helps reduce peak demand
  • Provides more accurate, efficient, and timely billing
  • Provides Operations & Maintenance (O&M) cost savings
  • Enables utilities to isolate outages and dispatch repair crews faster

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. electric utilities reported an estimated 103 million AMI installations as of 2020. The majority of these installations, 88%, were for residential customers. As this technology continues to grow throughout the U.S., OPPD will continue to modernize its electrical grid and ultimately work toward implementing AMI in the future. This will open up options and services to better communicate with customers and to better serve their changing preferences and needs.