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 the use of an automated meter at my home?
At the current time, customers who choose to opt out of using an automated meter will be charged a $26 monthly fee starting in May 2017 to cover the higher cost of reading and maintaining non-transmitting meters that must continue to be read manually. Customers who currently have an automated meter and would like to opt out must contact Customer Care at 520-623-7711 and request the removal of their automated meter. A one-time $38 Automated Meter Opt-Out Set-Up Fee will be charged for the removal of the automated meter.
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.