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Automated Metering System

RF Meter GraphicBurke-Divide Electric Cooperative uses automated meter reading technology to gather usage, voltage and other valuable information from our meters.

 

Automated meter reading has been in place at Burke-Divide Electric for a number of years.  The metering equipment currently in place is nearing the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced.

 

The main change with the new metering system is how the meters communicate data back to the cooperative.  Our existing system uses devices called Turtles and other equipment installed in substations to send data back to the cooperative over the power lines.  The new meter technology will use radio frequency (RF) for its communications.

 

The meter installation process will begin in the East side of our service area, working our way to the West.

 

 

 

Installation Schedule
Subject to change
February 2018:  NE part of service area

We will begin in the Mouse River area along the Canadian border and work South towards Norma, Tolley, Kenmare and Donnybrook.

 

 

Radio Frequency (RF) Automated Meter System

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are we changing to the RF automated meter system?
Automated meter reading has been in place at Burke-Divide Electric for a number of years.  The metering equipment currently in place is nearing the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced.

 

What’s the difference between the new meters and the old meters?
The main change with the new metering system is how the meters communicate data back to the cooperative.  Our existing system uses devices called Turtles and other equipment installed in substations to send data back to the cooperative over the power lines.  The new meter technology will use radio frequency (RF) for its communications.

 

What are the benefits of a radio frequency, automated meter system?
The meter system upgrade provides Burke-Divide Electric Cooperative and its members with numerous benefits.  The new meters will:

  • Pinpoint the exact location of outages more quickly, meaning a faster response time.
  • Collect hourly and daily meter readings to help members better understand their power consumption patterns.
  • Collect voltage and other data across the system to better monitor power quality and system inefficiencies.
  • Advanced system features that will allow for more trouble-shooting options for co-op employees from the office, increasing efficiency.

 

Do members have a choice in getting a new meter?
No. New meters will be installed on all accounts. The cooperative is embarking on a system-wide program that will change 100 percent of existing residential and commercial meters.

 

When will my meter be installed?
The meter change-out process will begin in February 2018 and will continue over a few months.

This page will be updated as meter installation progresses across our system.

Periodic updates will also be shared on our Facebook page—www.facebook.com/burkedivideelectric

 

Who will be changing out the meters?
Chapman Metering will be performing the meter change-outs under the supervision of Burke-Divide Electric Cooperative employees.

 

How will I know if my meter has been changed?
The contractor will leave an insert in your door to let you know they have changed the meter.  We will work with businesses to minimize any inconvenience.  You do not have to be present during the meter change.

 

Will I lose electrical service during the installation?
Yes, for a few minutes.  You will need to reset electronic clocks and other devices.

 

How much is this going to cost?
There will be no additional costs to the member to install the new system. There is no rate increase anticipated in association with this project. Following the installation, members will receive a bill with two readings:  one for the old meter and one for the new meter.

 

Will I keep the same rate after the conversion?
Yes, members will continue to stay on the same rate class as they have in the past.  There will be no increased cost to the member.

 

What information does the new meter record?
The new meter records an electronic kWh reading, the date and time of energy usage, the overall peak demand of the electric account, if the meter has rotated backwards, and the number of times the meter has experienced a loss of power for any reason. In fact, the meter will record the date and time of light blinks and the length of the power outage.

 

How will the co-op read the meters?
The cooperative’s computer system will communicate with the meters through routers and collectors installed throughout the system. The meter reading is sent back to the co-op via secure radio frequency.

 

What day of the month will the meters be read?
All of the co-op’s new meters will continue to be read the 1st of each month.

 

What if my bill reports more kWh usage than normal or I think my meter is not working correctly?
Contact the co-op office right away to discuss your billing concerns. The new meters installed have been tested and meet American National Standards Institute (ANSI) regulations.  The new meters allow for accurate readings and a consistent billing period.

Members are able to view hourly, daily, and monthly usage by using SmartHub, the cooperative’s online account management system.

 

Will the new meter notify the co-op when the power goes out?
Yes.  The meters will be able to record outages allowing the cooperative to verify whether the outage is either on the member’s side of the meter or the co-op's.

 

Are the new meters secure?
Yes.  The meter display is visible for members to be able to check their consumption.  All other information and data stored in the meter is secure, and the meter is sealed.

 

Will someone other than the co-op be able to read the new meter?
It’s very unlikely but not impossible that some very sophisticated “bad actor” could access information from the cooperative’s automated metering system.  Meter manufacturers are incorporating security features and encryption technology into their meters, as recommended by national security experts.  Our goal is to upgrade our electric distribution system to make it safer, more secure, and more reliable. Your new digital meter is part of this effort. Once your new digital meter is installed, your cooperative will be able to tell if someone “tampers” with your meter because the meter will report any tampering attempts to the cooperative.

 

Are there any potential health impacts from a meter that can receive and send data?
No.  Research conducted by the Electric Power Research Institute, the Utilities Telecom Council, and others has revealed no health impacts from digital meters. The radio frequencies emitted by digital meters falls well below the maximum recommended in federal guidelines. Contrary to some misconceptions, the new meters emit radio frequencies (RF) only when responding to a request for data from the co-op office – either once every fifteen minutes or once every hour for less than a second.  Compare this activity to a laptop with a wireless connection, which is constantly sending and retrieving data.  A digital meter equipped to send and receive data has an RF density hundreds of times less than the RF density of a cell phones – and the meters are installed on the outside of your house not next to your ear!

 

The FCC limit for RF exposure is 1 milliwatt per square centimeter (mW/cm2). At 20 inches in front of a meter, the average exposure to radio frequency signals is less than the background radio frequency signals naturally generated by the earth, and less than one-seven-thousandth of the safe exposure standard set by the Federal Communications Commission.  Exposure to RF is significantly reduced by buildings. At one yard in front of the meter on a typical day, inside your home, your exposure is miniscule — more than 1.3 million times below the FCC standard.

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