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More Than Kilowatt Counters

No matter their size, style, or age, almost all homes across the country have one thing in common: a small meter, constantly keeping a tally of electricity use. Some dutifully track kilowatts with spinning discs—a technology that dates back to 1888—while many have been upgraded to handle the information demands of our digital age.

Most digital meters contain chips that enable them to send kilowatt-hour use readings and other data to your electric cooperative—what’s called automated meter reading, or AMR. Some units go a step further and can send and receive signals from a co-op, opening up a world of possibilities. This allows co-ops to install AMI, or advanced metering systems.

Once AMI systems are in place, a wide range of applications can become available, including electricity theft detection, outage management, and remote disconnect and reconnect, among others. An estimated 50 percent of co-ops have deployed AMI in some fashion.

AMR and AMI are also key components of what’s called a “smart grid,” an evolving transmission and distribution network that can track the flow of electricity with great precision and efficiency.

—National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

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