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Advance Metering System Project - Texas

SWEPCO plans to deploy advanced digital meters to Texas retail customers over the next few years.

SWEPCO filed a request with the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) on Aug. 4, 2021, for an Advanced Metering System (AMS) deployment plan. Under the plan, SWEPCO proposes to begin with a pilot program for 10,000 Texarkana area customers in late 2021 followed by deployment to the rest of its Texas service territory in 2022-2023. In total, SWEPCO would deploy 195,000 meters to its Texas customers.

SWEPCO is committed to modernizing the electric grid – for greater reliability, enhanced customer service, innovative tools to help customers save energy and money, and a future that embraces more clean energy, electric vehicles and other advances in technology. Advanced digital meters, also known as smart meters, are part of SWEPCO’s grid modernization.

The proposed AMS system uses advanced metering and secure wireless technology to provide timely and accurate meter reading data. Customers can use this data to better understand and manage their electricity.

SWEPCO will conduct an outreach program to inform customers about the new metering system and how they can use it to manage their energy usage and costs. SWEPCO will notify individual customers prior to installation at their home or business.

FAQS

An advanced digital meter, sometimes called a smart meter, uses advanced metering and secure wireless technology to communicate between the meter and the utility and provide timely and accurate meter reading data. As SWEPCO adds new home energy management tools, the AMS meters will give customers more information to manage their energy use and costs. The AMS meters also will enable future capabilities like faster response to new service connections and other service requests, as well as automatic detection of power outages for a quicker start to repairs.

AMS will replace SWEPCO’s current Automated Meter Reading system, which requires driving by customers’ premises for monthly meter reading, and physical visits to the locations for connection/disconnection or other meter service. SWEPCO’s current version of AMR meters are no longer being produced, and systems are becoming obsolete. SWEPCO’s deployment plan is consistent with Texas legislation that encourages AMS deployment as rapidly as practical to allow customers to better manage energy use and control costs.

Yes. Many electric meters provide monthly total energy usage, but AMS meters capture data at 15-minute intervals, providing customers a much more detailed look at how they use energy. They can make more informed decisions about how and when to use energy in order to save energy and money. As SWEPCO implements new home energy management tools, customers will be able to access their information by smart phone, tablet or laptop.

Service request capabilities will be available for Texas customers shortly after the AMS deployment starts. SWEPCO anticipates having outage detection for all AMS customers by the end of the second quarter of 2022.

Yes. The meters and the associated communication system are encrypted and equipped with security features to prevent unauthorized access. SWEPCO is required to comply with all federal laws regarding the privacy, protection and disclosure of personal information. State law prohibits SWEPCO from providing customer information to outside third parties without the customer’s express permission.

No. All communications equipment meets criteria set by the Federal Communications Commission and should not interfere with any equipment inside a home or business.

Yes. AMS meters use radio frequencies (RFs) to communicate. RFs emitted by digital meters are well below that produced by other common household devices like cell phones, microwaves, baby monitors and home WiFi networks. The RFs are also well below the limit set by the Federal Communications Commission. The American Cancer Society has found no link between smart meters and cancer.

More information: SmartGrid Consumer Collaborative’s “Radio Frequency and Smart Meters”

Pending approval by the PUCT, SWEPCO’s AMS deployment plan includes a provision for customers to “opt-out” and elect a non-standard meter, with a proposed one-time fee ranging from $131.68 to $233.39 depending on the option elected, and a proposed recurring monthly customer fee of $22.97. The fees are established to cover all costs of non-standard metering services and to recover those costs from the customers who elect non-standard metering service. PUCT rules require a charge for the up-front and ongoing costs of providing a non-standard meter. The fees would begin in April 2022 for customers who choose to opt out.

As the capabilities of AMS meters are enabled in Texas, customers with a non-standard meter will not have access to their near-real-time energy usage information through SWEPCO’s home energy management tools. Other future capabilities – like faster response to new service connections and other service requests, as well as automatic detection of power outages for a quicker start to repairs – will not be available.

AMS meters will be read automatically with no need for monthly visits by meter personnel. The non-standard meter will require meter personnel to drive to the vicinity and collect data with an on-board receiver in the utility truck.

SWEPCO’s application to the PUCT includes a proposed surcharge to pay for AMS deployment. Pending PUCT approval, the surcharge would be $2.92 per month for residential customers for the first four years and $2.42 for the next four years. It would begin in April 2022. The surcharge for other rate classes varies and expires after four years.

Installation Q&A

SWEPCO’s deployment schedule, if approved by the PUCT and subject to adjustment, includes the following cities and surrounding areas:

  • 2021 (4th quarter) pilot project for 10,000 customers in parts of the Texarkana, Texas, area, as well as Hooks, Nash, New Boston, Red Lick, Red River Army Depot and Wake Village
  • 2022 – Texarkana, McLeod, Marshall, Waskom, Carthage, Henderson, Kilgore, Longview, Gladewater, Gilmer, Mt. Pleasant
  • 2023 – Mineola, Memphis

You will experience a brief power outage when we replace the meter. We expect the power outage to be no longer than a few minutes.

SWEPCO will conduct an outreach program to inform customers about the new metering system and how they can use it to manage their energy usage and costs. SWEPCO will notify individual customers prior to installation at their home or business. Notification may include postcard, email, phone or a door hanger.

Yes. We will need access to customers’ existing meters and will notify customers in advance of the installation schedule. We will work with customers regarding any concerns about access for the meter change-out.

No. A meter technician will leave a door hanger if access or other conditions prevent the meter exchange. Arrangements for special circumstances will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

You will be notified in advance when we will be in your area. To be ready, please clear access to your meter. Be sure there is a clear path to the meter and the area is free of other objects and debris. If you have a locked gate or other restrictions that would prevent our technicians from accessing the meter, please be sure to contact us.

Most installation will be completed by contractors working for SWEPCO. More information will be provided prior to installation. Technicians will not need access inside your home and will not ask you for money or personal information.

Our personnel will be practicing physical distancing, wearing face covering as required, along with other prevention measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition, we ask that customers help our personnel stay safe and healthy while working on the electric system – please keep at least six feet of physical distance between yourself and our field personnel as we all play a crucial role in preventing the spread of coronavirus.

No. Customers should be wary of any unverified communications received over telephonic, written, or electronic means requesting customer identification, banking or payment information, or subscription services for AMS product costs. If you receive such communications, or are approached by a party other than SWEPCO, please verify by calling SWEPCO to report the contact at 1.888.216.3523.

Who do I contact if I have questions about installation?

Meter installation

In the Longview area: Tyson Beavers, tebeavers@aep.com, 903.234.7273
In the Texarkana area: Jerome Lewis, jklewis@aep.com, 903.223.5760

Customer service

In the Longview area: Ryan Martin, rkmartin2@aep.com, 903.234.7287
In the Texarkana area: Doyal Reed, dbreed1@aep.com, 903.223.5878

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