Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of meters are being installed?
TEP is installing Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) meters manufactured by Itron. Although AMR meters lack many features associated with more advanced “smart meters,” they can transmit usage data through a wireless radio frequency (RF) signal. These signals are received through fixed network equipment or remote collectors carried by TEP’s meter readers.
Why is TEP installing AMR meters?
AMR meters offer an accurate, affordable way to measure energy usage. While our traditional electromechanical meters must be inspected visually each month, usage data from AMR meters can be forwarded to us automatically through a fixed network or gathered quickly and easily by TEP meter readers driving nearby in vehicles equipped with a remote collector.
Our AMR meters are an affordable replacement for electromechanical meters at the end of their useful lives. New electromechanical meters are no longer available, and TEP’s AMR meters cost about the same as comparable digital meters without wireless communications capability. That, combined with lower meter reading costs, helps make AMR meters a good investment for TEP and our customers.
AMR meters also make it easy to gather usage data more frequently than once a month. Aggregated hourly readings from AMR meters can be used to track energy use levels in certain areas of town, helping utilities plan for system improvements.
Are TEP’s AMR meters considered “smart meters”?
TEP’s AMR meters, by contrast, communicate one way and are not linked to appliances or other devices within the home. AMR meters collect the same data as a traditional meter but have just one additional feature: the ability to communicate readings wirelessly.
How do AMR meters work?
Like a traditional electromechanical meter, AMR meters measure the amount of energy flowing through the main service lines that provide electric service to customers from TEP’s local distribution system. The meters periodically communicate these readings through a low-energy wireless signal. In some parts of town, these signals are picked up by fixed network collectors installed on TEP facilities. In other areas, the signals are gathered through remote collectors carried by TEP’s meter readers. In either case, the readings are forwarded to TEP’s computer systems and used to bill customers.
Is my meter reading data secure?
Yes. The energy usage information transmitted wirelessly from your meter to TEP’s collection devices employ technology standards that comply with the data privacy guidelines and regulations set by the Arizona Corporation Commission.
How frequently do AMR meters communicate readings?
Our AMR meters send out readings approximately every 30 seconds. Because these communications last only a few milliseconds, the meters are typically communicating for less than two and a half minutes in a 24-hour period.
Is there any reason to be concerned about exposure to RF signals from AMR meters?
The brief wireless signals from TEP’s AMR meters have a much lower power density than emissions from Wi-Fi, cellular phones or other common RF sources. The meters operate at energy levels that are less than 1/100 of 1 percent of the RF exposure limit specified by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
In October 2014, the Arizona Department of Health Services completed a study about the use of AMR and smart meters. According to a report summary, “Exposure to electric meters (AMI and AMR) is not likely to harm the health of the public.” To read the study, conducted on behalf of the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), click here.
How can I tell if an AMR meter is installed at my home or business?
TEP’s AMR meters have a digital display instead of spinning dials. If your TEP meter bears an “Itron” brand and has a digital display, it is an AMR meter.
Does TEP seek customers’ permission before installing AMR meters?
No. Electric meters are part of TEP’s system and are replaced as needed at the company’s discretion, under the oversight of the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC).
Can I request that an AMR meter be removed from my home or business?
Requests to have a digital meter removed must be submitted in writing to:
Customer Service Manager (SC122),
PO Box 711, Tucson, AZ 85702.
Can I ‘opt out’ and request that an AMR meter is not installed at my home or business?
Requests to retain an electromechanical meter may be submitted to the Customer Service Manager at the address above.