Pasadena In Focus
March-April 2012

A Quick Primer on Your Electric Meter

Last year PWP completed its comprehensive electric meter replacement program begun in 2004. Now nearly all 62,000 electric customers have digital “automated meter reading” (AMR) meters. Here’s a quick refresher on our AMR meters plus some news on a recently launched pilot program for “advanced meters.”

Why did PWP replace the old-fashioned mechanical meters with digital AMR meters?
The old meters with the clock-like dials reached the end of their useful life. Like a mechanical watch versus a digital one, the AMR meters give a more accurate reading of your electric usage because they use digital technology. They can also be read more efficiently with a handheld wireless device.

How do meter readers know how much electricity I’ve used?
Once every billing cycle a PWP meter reader walks or drives by your home and uses a handheld wireless device to capture a signal emitted by your meter. The signal sends data about how much electricity you’ve used since the last read, and then that data then gets sent to the billing section at PWP.

There are lots of meters on the side of my house. How do I know which one is my electric meter?
Electric meters are usually mounted on the side of your home or building about five feet above ground. They are round with a digital display and are typically near the main fuse or circuit-breaker box. If there are several meters on the wall, yours will be labeled with the "Meter Number" you see on your utility bill.

Can I check my meter to see how much electricity I’ve used?
Yes, but you'll first need to get your most recent bill and compare it to what's displayed on your meter. Subtract the "Current Read" number you see on your bill from the number in the digital display on your meter. The difference between the two is how many kilowatt-hours you've used so far during this billing cycle.

I’ve heard that some residents are getting an even more advanced meter. Why?
PWP received grant funding for a pilot program to replace approximately 200 AMR meters with “advanced meters.” The goal is to see how advanced meters can help PWP improve its electric service quality and reliability.

What makes the pilot program meters more advanced?
Advanced meters can detect a power outage or when the voltage on a power line is too low or too high. It can then send an alert to PWP to troubleshoot. Also, if electric service at an address needs to be turned on or off, PWP staff can do it using wireless technology.

Are the AMR meters and advanced meters what people call “smart meters”?
No. Smart meters, now in use by many utilities nationwide, offer additional features like support for programmable “smart” appliances and electronics, real-time pricing and in-home displays for understanding your energy use.

Are AMR meters and advanced meters safe?
Yes. They have been tested and certified by the Underwriters Laboratories for electrical safety. The wireless technology in both meters emits radio signals at levels that are the same or less than cell phones, Wi-Fi routers and baby monitors and that are below limits set by the Federal Communications Commission.

For more info, visit www.pwpweb.com/meters, or call PWP Customer Service at (626) 744-4005.