In Spring of 2019, MEA completed the updating of its metering system with Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). This newer equipment has helped improve system reliability, advanced outage management while continuing our commitment to minimize costs for our members.
In 2018, MEA worked to install the final areas with AMI meters including Wasilla, Chugiak and Palmer. All Members that were impacted by upgrades received a postcard informing them about the project and an auto-call notifying them when we were close to their area for installation. If members were not home when the exchange took place, crews left a door hanger noting the upgrade was completed so members could stay informed.
The new AMI system was developed by ACLARA and is called TWACS (Two Way Automated Communication System). Communication between the electric meter and MEA is accomplished via the existing power lines. It is not a broadband power line solution and does not communicate via RF (radio frequency). Modules are installed in solid-state electric meters and send a signal of your usage back to MEA on a schedule determined by MEA. Each communication with the cooperative takes less than eight seconds. The system automates the meter-reading process and ensures only electric meter data is securely collected with no user or account information transmitted. Data collected is the same data currently collected via the existing Turtle Automated Meter Reading System. These solutions have been in use since 1985 by more than 500 utilities in nine countries.
Deployment of AMI meters began in June 2013, following Substation Communication Equipment (SCE) installation at the Dow, O’Neill, Stevens, Douglas and Anderson Substations. MEA has completed installation of SCE equipment in all 21 substations and completed installation of all 66,000+ AMI meters in early 2019.