Friday, November 20, 2015

Smart Talk: Smart Meter Installation

1 – 2 – 3 How Electric Meters are Installed

Customers frequently have questions about smart meter installation, wondering if they need to be home. They also wonder what's the big difference between a digital meter and a smart one. Any time a new meter is installed at a home, MLGW workers snap a photo with their cell phones (photo 1) of the old electric meters they are replacing. They pull out the old meter (photo 2) and snap a second photo of the new smart meter once it is in place. (photo 3) It's simple, and in most cases a customer doesn't have to be at their residence.

The process takes a matter of minutes unless a worker discovers there is a problem with the electric socket that the meter plugs into. While the meter is MLGW’s property, the homeowner is responsible for having working electrical socket. When lights in a home flicker or fade, it is often the result of the home’s electric socket. The socket is similar to an electrical wall socket in a home. Just like wall sockets sometimes go bad and stop working, so do outdoor electric sockets at homes. MLGW has committed to repairing any socket problems discovered during installation.

Digital and Smart Meter Differences

Looking at a side-by-side comparison of a digital and a smart meter, they look pretty similar. However, the capabilities between the two are worlds apart. Basically, the digital readings of a meter don’t make it “smart.” What makes a smart meter “smart” is the computer-chip-like communications device that is about the size of a half-dollar.

Digital meters still require a meter reader to physically read the meter on site. Smart meters are read remotely on a daily basis, which provides information on consumption to ratepayers they’ve never had access to before—information that can help them make decisions about their energy use to conserve and save. Right now, there are only about 24,000 Memphis Light, Gas and Water customers who have smart meters hooked up at their homes. About 80 percent are in Memphis, and the rest are in Shelby County and the suburbs. That represents about only five percent of the utility company’s total customer base.

By upgrading MLGW's metering technology, all customers will be able to take advantage of many benefits including PrePay, automated outage notification, tamper/theft detection and reduced customer fees. It’s why MLGW believes moving forward with smart meters is in the best interest of customers.

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