Smart Meter Technology

What is Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)?

Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) or "Smart Meters" are digital meters that measure and record electricity usage and automatically report the data to DEMCO using radio frequency technology. 

Why are they called Smart Meters?

These meters are “Smart” because they have built-in technology to measure energy usage, voltage, and outages; then can automatically report this information directly to DEMCO.  Using technology that has been well-established for many years, smart meters are a safe and secure alternative to manual meter reading, and members can enjoy enhanced services.

Why is DEMCO changing out meters?

About 30,000 DEMCO meters are already Smart. DEMCO will change-out the more than 70,000 meters that remain, so that all members are part of the Advanced Metering Infrastructure. Giving all members access to Smart Meter technology means our members receive electricity via the safest and most reliable electric distribution system available.

How does a Smart Meter work?

Smart Meters measure your kilowatt hour (kWh) usage of electricity and transmit that information to DEMCO using wireless radio frequency (RF) technology. RF technology is the same technology as used with common items already in your home such as baby monitors, wi-fi networks, and cell phones.

When will I get a Smart Meter?

Not every DEMCO meter will be changed – about 30,000 DEMCO meters are already Smart. DEMCO aims to change the more than 70,000 meters that remain by the end of 2022. If your meter is scheduled for a change-out, you will be notified in advance. 

Who will change my meter?

Our meter installation vendor, Texas Meter and Device Company (TMD), will be changing out the meters. Personnel will wear a TMD uniform, have identification cards, and their vehicles will be clearly marked with a sticker that reads ‘‘Licensed contractor of DEMCO.”

What are the member benefits of a Smart Meter?

Convenient - Smart Meters automatically report energy usage, voltage, and outage information to DEMCO. This means DEMCO can quickly detect an outage, even if you’re not home to report it. 

Accurate - Smart Meters automatically send in the meter reading at predetermined times, so over time, it helps identify when you are using electricity.  Over time, this helps with energy use and your budget.

Enhanced Safety - Smart Meters can self-detect voltage issues and automatically send information to DEMCO, which means we can remotely monitor the safety and status of your meter.

More Member Control - Smart Meters can help you know more about how much power you use and when. This information can help you make informed energy-use choices and identify ways to conserve energy and save money.

Updated technology - Smart Meters use radio frequency technology – the same type of technology that is used for baby monitors, and wifi – to receive meter information. 

Member safety - Smart Meters can communicate with DEMCO using remote encrypted data to keep your information safe. Smart Meters can also detect tampering and transmit that information to DEMCO which is an added level of security.
Enhanced member service - Smart Meters provide a digital link between DEMCO and our members, and there is potential for new and expanded services, such as smart home energy management, load control, budget billing, usage alerts, outage notifications, and time-varying pricing.

Who owns the meter on my home or business?

DEMCO owns the meter. The property owner owns the meter enclosure box and all of the wiring in the home or business.

How will I be notified that my meter is scheduled to be changed?

DEMCO will send an automated call to tell you when meters in your area are scheduled for change-out. You will also receive notification by mail prior to the meter being changed.  When our meter installation vendor, Texas Meter and Device Company (TMD), arrives at your home, the installers will knock at the door to let you know they are there to replace your meter. The installers will not need nor will they request to enter your home. They also will not request any personal or payment information from you for the meter replacement service.

How will I know when my meter is changed?

Our meter installation vendor, Texas Meter and Device Company (TMD), will attempt to notify the resident upon arrival that the meter is being replaced. If no one is available and the meter is accessible, the installer will leave a door hanger and will proceed with the meter exchange

What will happen when my meter is replaced?

During the process, you will notice a brief power interruption. When the installation is complete, our meter installation vendor, Texas Meter and Device Company (TMD), will leave a door hanger at your location to let you know your meter has been replaced.

Do I need to do anything to get ready for the meter replacement?

Most members do not need to do anything to prepare for the meter replacement. If meter access is obstructed in some way, those obstructions should be removed.

What if the meter installer arrives and my meter is obstructed so they cannot change my meter?

Our meter installation vendor, Texas Meter and Device Company (TMD), will leave a door hanger and phone number for the member to call and schedule the change-out once the meter is clearly accessible.

Will my bill go up with a Smart Meter?

Smart Meters will not directly cause your bill to go up. However, if the old meter removed was not recording energy usage accurately, increased bills are possible.

Are other electric companies using Smart Meters?

Smart Meter installations in the U.S. are expected to reach 107 million by the end of 2020, averaging about 10 million new installations annually.

Will all members be required to accept a Smart Meter?

All DEMCO members are entitled to enjoy and participate in the new and improved services available as a result of advanced metering technology. This program is based on 100% acceptance rate; however, requests to opt-out of the Smart Meter upgrade program will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

Will DEMCO need to access my Smart Meter in the future?

Smart Meters include technology which allows readings to be automatically submitted to DEMCO. However, DEMCO may need to access the Smart Meter at a future date to provide service or perform periodic quality control. The Smart Meter should always remain clearly accessible to the extent possible to allow for safe service at your location. 

Does the Smart Meter interfere with other household appliances, such as computer routers, television signals, cordless phones, etc.?

Smart Meters operate in an approved FCC radio spectrum and will not interfere with existing RF devices due to mandatory FCC compliance regulations. The FCC regulates all electronics to prevent one type of electronic equipment from interfering with other electronic and wireless devices that operate in the same frequency band. 

Does the Smart Meter interfere with my HAM radio or will my HAM radio interfere with the Smart Meter?

No. HAM radio operates on a different frequency, so smart meters will not interfere.

I have solar power at my home. Does the Smart Meter work with that?

Smart Meters will record “net metering” the same as existing mechanical or electronic meters do today.

Do Smart Meters interfere with medical devices such as pacemakers?

The wireless signals from Smart Meters comply with all Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations for commonly used utility wireless devices. Medical device manufacturers advise people to consult with their physicians regarding radio signal interference if this is a concern.

Are Smart Meters safe?

Smart Meter technology has been well-established for many years as a safe and secure alternative to manual meter reading. The technology selected by DEMCO has been submitted and certified to be within all FCC and RF safety standards, the same standards as RF devices currently used in your home or business.

Is a Smart Meter safe for homes with older wiring?

Smart meters do not add load to the member’s home. Smart Meters are powered by energy provided by DEMCO and only monitor the energy consumed by the member’s home.

Since Smart Meters use Radio Frequency (RF) waves to transmit data, is that dangerous to me and my family?

Smart Meters are in the same category as baby monitors, residential wi-fi networks, and cell phones.

Smart Meters use minimal levels of (RF) transmissions – they are categorized as low radiation and cannot penetrate our body. RF waves are not cancer-causing.

Is the DEMCO AMI Smart Meter network secure?

Smart Meters are only known by their ID on the AMI network, and no member account information such as name or address is broadcast by the meter. Data from the meter is also encrypted, further securing the network and information.

While AMI meters have added a new component to our system, the meters, communications, and information management are subject to the same Department of Energy security standards that keep the grid secure.

Cybersecurity is nothing new to the utility industry. We have extensive experience maintaining cybersecurity for information systems and operating the electricity grid.

How is my personal data protected?

No member account information such as name or address is broadcast by the meter. Data from the meter is also encrypted, further securing the network and information.

How does DEMCO protect against hackers and security breaches?

DEMCO and other utilities already take careful measures to prevent unauthorized access to computers that control critical electrical systems. Cyber security is not new to us, and we routinely protect highly sensitive data from unauthorized access through the use of encryption technologies.

Can unauthorized people monitor my account to learn more about energy use in my home?

All DEMCO meter information is encrypted, preventing any unauthorized access to member energy consumption information. 

Is it easy for someone to tamper with my meter and energy use?

Smart Meters can detect tampering in real-time. Tampering or energy theft is recorded and transmitted to DEMCO, which means we can help monitor your meter if anyone attempts to tamper with it.