Frequently Asked Questions
Tucson Electric Power’s automated meters offer an accurate, affordable way to measure energy usage. They also enable new pricing plans that provide our customers with new ways to save while promoting more efficient use of our local energy grid. The following questions and answers offer more information about this technology.
Why is TEP installing new meters?
As part of ongoing efforts to modernize our electric delivery service, TEP is installing an Advanced Metering Infrastructure system. This system improves meter reading efficiency while providing data that supports reliable service. It also will help TEP manage the integration of new energy resources and offer services that help customers reduce energy consumption and save money.
How do automated meters work?
Our automated meters transmit usage data through a wireless radio frequency (RF) signal. The meters communicate for very brief periods of time at a low signal strength throughout the day. Because these transmissions last only a few milliseconds, the meters typically communicate for less than 1½ minutes per day.
What are the benefits of TEP’s automated meters?
Our meters communicate usage data automatically, reducing meter reading errors and allowing more frequent reads that support time-of-use and demand-based pricing plans. Sending fewer employees to physically read meters also reduces fuel consumption and pollution, allowing more efficient, environmentally friendly operations.
In addition, the meters notify TEP of outages and fluctuations in voltage. This improves service restoration times and assists with preventive maintenance that can prevent outages and improve the reliability of your electric service.
Do automated meters protect customer privacy?
Yes. Customer-specific data such as names, addresses and account numbers are not transmitted by automated meters. The meters use advanced encryption technology to prevent unauthorized access to data and the utility network.
How is meter data transmitted to TEP?
Readings are transmitted wirelessly using RF signals that are similar to signals used by cordless phones and many other consumer devices.
Electromagnetic fields, radio waves, microwaves and wireless signals are collectively referred to as RF energy. RF energy is used in various electronics and common appliances in your home such as garage door openers, radio and television broadcasting, baby monitors, cellular phones and wireless headphones, to name a few.
How does TEP ensure that its meters are safe?
TEP’s automated meters comply with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) standards for the safe use of RF energy, and the RF energy used is well below FCC limits. In addition, federal health and safety agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration consistently monitor and regulate RF safety.
In October 2014, the Arizona Department of Health Services completed a study about the use of automated meters and concluded that the RF radiation from electronic meters is below the FCC standard of 6 watts per square meter. Read the study, conducted on behalf of the Arizona Corporation Commission.
Can I opt out of using a new automated meter at my home?
TEP is continuously improving its metering system. If you qualify, you can choose to receive a new non-transmitting meter. After meter installation, your account will be charged a $26 monthly fee to cover the higher cost of reading and maintaining a meter that must be read manually.
If you currently have a new, two-way automated meter and switch to a non-transmitting meter, a one-time $43 Automated Meter Opt-Out Set-Up Fee also will be charged to your account.
If you currently have a one-way automated meter and choose to receive a new, non-transmitting meter, the set-up fee will not be charged.
Customers must meet these criteria to qualify for a new, non-transmitting meter:
- Be a residential customer with no more than 200-amp service.
- Take service under the Basic (Residential Service) pricing plan.
- If you don’t own the property, obtain signed permission from the property owner.
- You will be responsible for providing TEP employees safe access for meter installation, reading and maintenance. Failure to do so may result in termination of your opt-out status and the installation of a new automated meter.
- If your service is disconnected more than one time in 12 months for nonpayment, your opt-out status may be terminated.
If your building owner chooses to opt-out the entire building, the owner will be responsible for paying all fees associated with the non-transmitting meters for all units.
Please contact Customer Care at 520-623-7711 if you would like to opt out or if you have questions.
Who can I contact with any further concerns about the use of automated meters?
If you have questions, please contact Customer Care. Send us a message online or call us at 520-623-7711.