For the sake of accuracy, routine meter maintenance is extremely important for utilities and their customers. Starting in 2017, over a four year period, Paducah Power System will gradually replace all of its meters with new ones.
It is important that any meter changeout be handled with great care in order to avoid mistakes that can lead to billing errors. For that reason, we planned and prepared staff for this project for nearly a year.
Our last large-scale meter change-out was in 2007 when PPS installed digital or “smart” meters. During the past ten years, the meters have given our customers greater reliability, more accurate billing and faster power restoration. Also, the meters have made possible our prepaid program, Pay as You Go, making it easier for some customers to manage their accounts and eliminating their need for a deposit.
The replacement meters are the same brand of meter we currently use, and look the same as the old ones. The only difference in the current meters and our new meters is the method in which they deliver usage information to PPS. In addition to the benefits digital meters have provided over the past decade, the new meters will improve outage detection and notification by reporting the location of outages before customers call us.
Year one of the project will focus on the Reidland/Farley communities and the area served by Substation #3, located near Keiler Park.
Why are you getting a new meter?
Some of Paducah Power’s meters have reached the end of their life, and some are no longer available. Support for the meters currently in the field will end in three years, so we are phasing in their replacements over the next four years. The new meters will give customers even more control of their usage and help us to prevent outages and pinpoint outages faster, leading to quicker restoration times.
What is a “smart meter”?
It’s a digital meter that transmits energy consumption information to the utility more frequently than mechanical meters without the need for a meter reader. The new meters will transmit a reading to PPS once every fifteen minutes.
There are several claims and myths about smart meters that are not supported by scientific evidence. We encourage customers to use credible sources for information about the meters and to consider the science used by those sources.
Myth #1: Digital meters are less accurate than mechanical meters.
Mechanical meters tend to slow down over time. They can and do fail. The accuracy of digital meters has been proven, scientifically, to be better than mechanical meters. Electronic meters have tighter accuracy tolerances than mechanical meters. Digital meters are manufactured per performance standards set by the American National Standards Institute. They are tested before they leave the manufacturer, and we batch test them for accuracy when they arrive at Paducah Power. In some communities where smart meters were first used, the Public Service Commission (PSC) ordered tests by an independent third party and found that digital meters performed better than mechanical meters. The PSC and other utilities have also determined that most changes in usage after a meter installation are caused by estimation, longer billing periods or extraordinary weather occurring simultaneously with meter upgrades.
Myth #2: Digital meters are a health threat
Radio frequency (RF) emissions from smart meters are far below the limits set by the Federal Communications Commission and well below levels produced by other common household devices such as laptops, cellphones and microwave ovens. There is no credible scientific evidence, to date, that shows any threat to human health from RF emissions at or below FCC limits.
This chart shows how smart meters compare to other common items in terms of RF exposure.
Myth #3: Digital meters increase the risk of fire and explosion
All electric meters, both mechanical and digital, must meet safety requirements and standards of the National Electric Safety Code (NESC). We have had no fire issues with our digital meters since we installed them 10 years ago.
Myth #4: Digital meters are an invasion of privacy
Meters measure the amount of energy you use, based on time of day, not how you use that energy. We have no way of knowing if your usage is due to a specific appliance or activity, and to be honest, we’re not interested in how you use your power. Also, we adhere to strict policies that control how we handle personal information for business functions such as billing and customer service.
Myth #5: Digital meters will not keep my data secure
Since we were formed in 1961, we have always worked hard to protect customer information. Our protection methods change as technology changes, but our goal has always been to do whatever is necessary to protect your information. Today, we use advanced security and encryption technology to protect customers’ data. We constantly work to safeguard it, just as we have for 26 years. That will not change with the new meters.
Is there an “opt out”?
No, we have not had mechanical meters or meter readers in ten years. Given our success with the digital meters, we do not plan to maintain two different processes for collecting meter readings.
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Paducah Power System Address: 1500 Broadway St, Paducah, KY 42001