Advanced Metering Infrastructure

Frequently Asked Questions

Beginning in the fall of 2023, Spencer Municipal Utilities staff will begin replacing all its customers’ residential and commercial electric meters with advanced meters to improve services. Many electric meters are located outside of homes and businesses, and local SMU staff will be replacing customer meters at no charge to customers.

When a meter is replaced at a home or business there will be a very brief outage at that location and clocks or devices may need to be reset.

Advanced meters are utility meters that link with a communication network and a central system to remotely measure customer usage. A few other benefits to these meters include capability of identifying outages to help restore power quickly, detecting tampering, and connecting and disconnecting services.

What is AMI?

Advanced Metering Infrastructure, or AMI, is a technology solution that allows SMU to read utility meters remotely and share the information with customers. SMU has been using radio read meters for 15 years that provide a single direction of information flow-from the meter to the utility and with the new AMI meters, SMU and its customers will have the ability to share information about usage which will enhance efficiency for customers.

How does advanced metering benefit me?

Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) will provide customers with better information to use utility resources more efficiently. Customers will have access to more detailed information about energy and water usage using Spencer Municipal Utilities SmartHub web and mobile app customer portal. This data will also help SMU address customer questions about usage.

If you need assistance setting up your SmartHub account, please contact our customer service center at 712-580-5800.

What will advanced metering cost me?

There will be no additional customer bill charges for this meter upgrade. The project is being funded out of normal operating budgets for equipment upgrades.

Why are we upgrading our meters?

Spencer Municipal Utilities routinely upgrades equipment according to industry standards. SMU’s current electric meters are at the end of their life and AMI meters are currently the utility standard. When SMU makes equipment upgrades it allows for efficient operations and is more cost effective.

What is an advanced meter?

An Advanced Meter allows for two-way communication on an Advanced Metering network. Meters communicate with nearby two-way field collector radios and send data back to the database. The meter collects usage data in 15-minute increments for electric meters and data is loaded to customer accounts on a regular basis.

Is advanced metering a new technology?

No, Advanced Metering has been around for some time and is a utility standard. SMU has been using radio read meters since its last meter upgrade in 2008-2009.

Will I have access to my meter data?

Yes. As the conversion project takes place, customers will have access to more detailed information about electricity and water usage patterns through Spencer Municipal Utilities SmartHub web and mobile app customer portal. The additional knowledge of usage patterns will help customers make better choices about how to use utility resources.

If you need assistance setting up your SmartHub account, please contact our customer service center at 712-580-5800.

Is my information safe?

Yes, data transmitted from the meter with the AMI technology is encrypted throughout the entire process. There is no personal identifying information captured or transmitted by the meter.

Will the electronic box on the meter device interfere with other electronic equipment in my home or office?

No. The radio transmission operates in compliance with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations to avoid interference with other electronic devices.

Are the radio frequencies utilized by the new equipment harmful to my health?

Although the AMI meters utilize radio frequency (RF) technology, they represent no known health hazards and emit significantly lower exposure levels than most other typical devices. RF emitted by AMI meters is well below the limits set by the FCC and below the levels produced by other common household devices like cell phones, and microwave ovens. SMU’s AMI meters operate on the 902MHz to 928MHz space which has been used for many years for HAM radios, US Navy Radiolocation systems, FM repeaters, in-home cordless phones, remote controls and some varieties of Wi-Fi. These meters only transmit for a few seconds out of every hour.

How will I know that you have my reading and not someone else’s?

Each AMI radio frequency device has a unique identifier number which is transmitted along with the meter reading. The unique number is compared to account records electronically to ensure a match.

Will Spencer Municipal Utilities be able to control anything in my home or business?

No. SMU’s access stops at the meter.

Will my service be interrupted during installation?

Service will be briefly interrupted for less than a minute during new meter installation. This interruption will be very brief. You may need to reset some of your electronic equipment (clocks, set top boxes, etc.). As with any service outage, it’s recommended to check all your appliances as well. If you do not have internet service after the brief electric outage, you may need to power cycle the router.

Will I be notified about the new meter installation at my home or business?

Yes, you will be notified by postcard approximately two weeks prior to your meter installation as well as a phone call a few days prior.

What can I expect during installation?

On the day of installation, an SMU staff member will be at the service address to change out the equipment. A typical meter change out takes approximately 10-15 minutes. Each installer will have proper identification.

Who is doing the equipment change?

Spencer Municipal Utilities staff will be installing the new meters. All installers will be able to provide proper identification at a customer’s request.

Can I choose to not have the upgraded equipment?

All customer homes and businesses need to be upgraded to the new equipment. The efficiency of SMU’s billing, technology and operations systems depends on the instantaneous exchange of information. With the existing meters at the end-of-life customers cannot choose to remain on the old meter.

Do I need to be home for this equipment change?

Many new meter installations will take place outside the home or business and will not require anyone to be at the install other than SMU staff. For installations when home or business entry is required, customers will be contacted by phone to make an appointment. SMU staff will arrive to install in a company vehicle and provide an ID card verifying identity.

How will I know that my advanced meter has been installed?

Once your new meter has been installed, you will receive a door hanger notifying you when it has been completed.

What happens if I have a problem after installation?

If you have a loss of power or some problem after installation, please contact Spencer Municipal Utilities at 712-580-5800 to report your concern.