IREA understands that customers have questions about the impending Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) installation that will begin next year. AMI is not new in the electric utility industry. It is a proven technology with more than 65 million meters already in place. It is new for many IREA customers, though, and we want to provide answers to any questions you have.
Some common questions about AMI involve radio frequency (RF) emissions and their health effects. We want our customers to know that these meters are safe. The AMI meters will transmit brief signals once each hour unless the power fails, in which case they will broadcast an alert to us, or unless we call upon them for a response, which will rarely happen. All meters IREA installs as part of the AMI project will operate well below RF emission limits set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). They will generate much less RF energy than many other household items we use daily, including cell phones and microwaves.
Customers might also have concerns regarding data privacy. That is why it is important to know that no customer-identifying information is transmitted or stored by the AMI system. Like analog and basic digital meters, AMI meters collect information about electricity delivered to the meter. Unlike older meters, an AMI meter will notify IREA if power is not being delivered to the meter and collect data on the level of power demand at the meter and the voltage of power delivered to the meter.
AMI meters will not, however, tell IREA how you use that power. Our data collection stops at the meter. We will not know if you burn toast, what you watch on TV or which websites you visit on your computer. Energy use on your side of the meter is your business, not IREA’s. We simply deliver electricity to your meter. AMI meters will be owned by IREA as part of our distribution system; their sole purpose will be to allow us to monitor the energy delivered by that system so we can know how much to bill and understand the performance of the system. The information we will obtain from an AMI meter will not be used or useful for any other purpose.
Protecting customer privacy is a priority for IREA. We do not and will not sell or share customer information with third parties for commercial purposes, nor do we release customer information to government agencies without a subpoena, warrant or other valid legal process. This will not change with the use of AMI technology.
Data security also is a priority for IREA. AMI data will be encrypted and protected by multiple layers of security to guard against unauthorized actions, breaches and tampering. No personal customer information – names, addresses or account numbers, for example – will be transmitted or stored by the AMI system. An AMI meter records and transmits only data regarding the quantity and quality of the energy delivered to the meter, and diagnostic information regarding the performance of the meter itself.
IREA encourages customers to visit www.IREA.coop/ami-safety for more info on AMI safety and security, including links to independent studies.