Automated Meter Reading (AMR)
Meter technology has evolved from electromechanical, or dial-type, meters to digital meters. Tampa Electric adopted advanced metering technology in 2003, when the company began replacing dial-type meters with digital meters, also called drive-by meters. This technology is also known as automated meter reading, or AMR. We have completed installing these meters on all homes and businesses in our 2,000-square-mile territory.
There are two common digital meters:
- Standard AMR Meters (one-way communications capability)
- Advanced Smart Meters (two-way communications and other Smart Grid capabilities
Advanced metering technology
The advanced metering technology allows Tampa Electric field crews to read a meter without entering a customer's property – they simply drive a vehicle down the street. The meters transmit data using a one-way radio frequency. The radio signal is picked up by a "collector" inside a meter reader's vehicle. This is similar to the operation of your garage-door opener or a SunPass. This technology is different from two-way meters, which are sometimes referred to as "smart meters."
This one-way, digital technology provides significant benefits, such as:
- More accurate meter readings than traditional dial meters
- Increases privacy for customers because no meter reader enters their property
- Reduces access issues for customers with dogs or locked gates
It is important to note that radio frequencies are all around us – from computer and cell-phone networks, toll roads and many appliances in your home, such as garage door openers. Exposure from automated electric meters is significantly less than many devices common in everyday life. Since 1996, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has required wireless devices to meet minimum guidelines for safe human exposure to radio frequencies. It is important to note that Tampa Electric's wireless digital meters operate significantly below FCC guidelines. The equipment operates at very low levels comparable to radio waves already present in the environment. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), research does not suggest any adverse health effects from exposure to radio frequencies that meet the FCC guidelines.
This equipment is specifically designed for meter reading, and it is unlikely it would interfere with the operation of any other equipment, such as computers or other electronics.
All equipment used by Tampa Electric is designed to operate within state and federal standards, such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
Tampa Electric has adopted Smart Grid as a long-term strategic initiative, and we believe that this technology is a good direction for our industry. We are preparing for a future implementation of two-way smart meters. We recognize the need to effectively and prudently deploy a Smart Grid system that includes operational benefits and can meet customers' expectations.