For the past year and a half, Powder River Energy technicians have planned the replacement of the cooperative’s automated meter reading (AMR) system with a more robust and feature-rich advanced meter infrastructure (AMI) system.
The work of installing relays in Weston County [a series of wireless communication pods attached to selected power poles] has reached a new phase. Through the end of 2019, a planned roll-out of new meter installations in Weston County will take place at the same time as relay installations in Crook County. Meter installations will follow in Crook County.
(ABOVE) An AMI relay is attached to a PRECorp power distribution pole. These relays will become a common sight on PRECorp poles in the coming months.
PRECorp releases communications to members when our crews or technicians will be working in your area. Please contact our offices at 1-800-442-3630 if you have specific questions about the project in your area.
Eventually, project technicians will install relays and meters in Campbell, Johnson, and Sheridan counties to complete the network.
The new AMI system comes with an improved solid-state meter and a two-way communication network. This receives readings like the older AMR system, but can also transmit signals to the cooperative when it is experiencing a problem.
The new AMI system is the current industry standard. More specifically, PRECorp will be installing an integrated system of meters, communication networks, and data management systems that enable two-way communication between PRECorp and its meters.
The AMR meters perform as intended, but they are approaching the end of useful life. Industry suppliers no longer support these meters with parts and repairs.
The cooperative saves money in the long-term by moving away from a higher-cost, unsupported meter system. No adverse impacts to the annual operating costs of the cooperative or its rates are expected as a result of the implementation of the AMI system. The benefit is improved service to our membership.
The AMI system and meters record member usage and report that information back to PRECorp, just like AMR systems.
However, the AMI meters can also respond to requests or send information on their own, such as voltage readings, allowing the cooperative to verify, or be notified of, a member’s power outage.
This can save members money by avoiding an unwarranted trouble call when a breaker trips.
With this level of information, PRECorp crews can speed up finding the location and cause of the outage. This will expedite restoration efforts.
Today, the AMR system captures and records daily member usage, which the cooperative provides to members enrolled in SmartHub, the cooperative’s online member portal, under the "My Usage" tab.
The AMI system will be capable of capturing usage data more frequently, several times daily, and the usage data retrieved will contain individual readings that are captured every 15 to 30 minutes, providing better data to members to help diagnose high-use events or simply better understand and manage their electrical usage. The detailed usage data will also enable the possibility to develop optional flexible pricing plans, such as Time-Of-Day plans, where members who shift usage to off-peak hours of the day can save even further.
PRECorp members have indicated in surveys and direct communications with the cooperative that they want more information and control over their energy consumption and costs. It all starts with a way to measure electricity use on the system more frequently and in greater detail. Timely measurement is the first step toward that goal.