Meter Upgrade Project

Project Overview:

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.  

Member Installation Plan:

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.

Project Background:

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.

Benefits of AMI Metering System:

  • Fully automates daily meter readings on all system meters
  • Reduces meter reading and transportation costs
  • Reduces the need to access property to read meters
  • Reduces estimated billing due to unavailable meter readings
  • Provides on-request reads, saves re-read costs
  • Delivers more efficient outage restoration by reporting a loss of power
  • Increases ability to detect tampering and reduces energy theft
  • Improves member information – the AMI system will give MEA the ability to provide members with more detailed information such as power consumption patterns, outage and blink count history and voltage information, reducing high bill inquiries
  • Reduces employee exposure to hazards, especially in areas with fenced yards, dogs and other hazards

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.