Overview and Benefits of Advanced Metering Infrastructure
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Overview of Advanced Metering Infrastructure

Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) is a method of using communication technology to read meters remotely without having to access meters located in meter boxes or in the ground. It includes smart meters and communication modules and gives utility customers more control over their electric, gas and water bills by empowering them with information to make smarter choices about usage.

Smart meters and the communication modules track consumption similarly to older analog meters, but report data back to the utility company digitally using a secure code associated with the customer’s account. Just as our cable TV is now digital instead of an antenna, and your cell phone requires no land line, your meter can now work digitally to transmit information to the utility over securely encrypted networks.

Utilities across the nation are rapidly adopting AMI to provide more reliable service. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that in “2016, U.S. electric utilities had about 70.8 million advanced (smart) metering infrastructure (AMI) installations. About 88% of the AMI installations were residential customer installations.”

Utility customers without AMI receive a monthly statement of their consumption based on a manual reading, limiting customers’ ability to gauge how changes can be made to consumption of electricity, gas and water. However, with the AMI, customers can monitor their consumption in near-real time, helping them to make better choices that positively impact their monthly bills.

A small chip in the smart meter and the communication modules reads usage digitally and transmits it in 15-minute increments to a secured server run by the utility. This information allows the utility to report usage information to the customer via an online portal or mobile device app, which helps the customer see usage patterns and make decisions on how he/she might make changes to lower utility bills.

Since data is transmitted digitally, the smart meters will soon be able to alert DPU immediately of any power outage. The communication modules can alert the DPU or the customers of water or gas service problems, such as a leak.

The AMI is also environmentally friendly, reducing the number of service trucks that the DPU needs to send out for meter reading or meter monitoring.

In the long-term, AMI provides more reliable electric, gas and water service with the added benefit of helping customers to reduce consumption and lower monthly bills.

BENEFITS

  • AMI helps a customer to save monthly by providing detailed consumption information on electricity, gas, and water.
  • Smart meters will soon be able to report power outages to the DPU immediately.
  • AMI can report leaks or service issues to the DPU and customer automatically.
  • A customer can set up alerts to provide notification of usage thresholds before a high bill is received.
  • A customer can track consumption online or through mobile devices.
  • AMI makes account maintenance more efficient for a customer.
  • AMI is secure and does not transmit personal information.
  • Smart meters are safe, using lower radio frequency signals than permitted by the FCC.
  • Most of the U.S. will have a smart meter by 2020