Message From CEO Steve Marlow
Over the next 15 months, East-Central Iowa REC will be installing new advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) technology to increase the efficiency and reliability of our electric system.
Improving the efficiency of operations and electricity delivery will help us keep down costs. By installing AMI technology, the Cooperative will have the ability to read meters remotely from the office, saving the cost associated with hiring a contractor or sending our line crews out to gather readings. As a result, members will save money and we will lower our carbon footprint. The ability to instantaneously read meters directly from the office will also eliminate the need to estimate time spent uploading over 10,000 meter readings into the billing system.
In addition to reducing operational costs, the new meters, which can receive and send information to computers at the Cooperative headquarters, will improve the reliability of our system. The new technology allows us to detect problems more quickly and locate outages more precisely. In some cases, we will be able to fix the problem before members know their power has been out.
AMI technology is also a key component of the electronic grid, or the “smart grid,” which is a transmission and distribution network that can track the flow of electricity with great precision and efficiency. ECI REC has considered the smart grid within our long-term strategic plan, making sure our SCADA system and other technology upgrades were AMIcompatible when updates were needed. AMI systems and the smart grid are self-healing in the sense that if service is interrupted, ECI REC will know right away because certain components of the grid will stop sending data. By ensuring the components of the grid—from substations to switches to home electric meters—are capable of two-way communication, ECI REC can manage distribution more efficiently, be proactive about maintenance, and respond to outages faster.
Finally, the AMI meters provide information about power usage that will help members understand how and when they are using electricity. Armed with this information, ECI REC customer service representatives will be in a better position to help members address billing inquiries.
Our members’ kilowatt-hour rates will not change. Your first bill following the installation will be labeled “Meter Exchange” in the Bill Type section. Members will be able to see the readings and usage from their old and new meters. The Cooperative will send out an installation schedule, which will also be available on our website. You can find more information about the meters on the website’s FAQ page.
At East-Central Iowa REC, taking advantage of new technologies is just one more way we look out for our members.