No matter the size, style or age, 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—that’s called automated meter reading, or AMR. Some units can send and receive signals, allowing co-ops to install AMI, or advanced meter infrastructures.
AMR has existed since the mid-1980s and began as a more efficient way to conduct meter readings. Today, the collection of meter readings is just the tip of the iceberg. When teamed with other equipment, AMR can evolve into an AMI providing electricity theft detection, outage management and “blink” monitoring.
AMR and AMI are also key components of the smart grid, an evolving, self-healing transmission and distribution network that can track the flow of electricity with great precision and efficiency.