Frequently Asked Questions on Advanced Meters
Although advanced electronic technology has become the norm in many aspects of our daily lives, we understand advanced meters are new in Sioux Center. Hopefully, this information will help answer any questions you may have.
We are available at the City Office if you'd like to visit more about advanced meters.
- What are advanced meters?
Advanced meters link with a communications network and a central system to remotely measure utility use, connect and disconnect services, detect tampering, and identify outages.
- How do advanced meters work?
The new meters are electronic and are capable of recording and storing meter data. The meter sends the meter data back to the Sioux Center Municipal Utilities/City Office where the meter data is stored until needed.
- Are advanced meters new technology?
No. Approximately 50% of all meters in America are advanced meters. They have been around for more than 30 years.
- Will I be charged for my updated meters?
No, you will not. Your updated meters are being paid for by Sioux Center Municipal Utilities.
- How does advanced metering benefit me?
The new metering will allow SCMU to reduce the labor cost associated with reading the meters each month. The additional meter data will enable SCMU to better communicate with you regarding water and electricity consumption patterns, detect outages and abnormal consumption due to leaks, faucets running, etc. and help you use water and electricity more efficiently.
- Does this mean a meter reader will no longer come by my house?
Yes. You will no longer have a meter reader come read your meter monthly.
- Will the appearance of my utility meters be different?
Your updated meters will look very similar to the current meters.
- Will I notice any changes?
You can anticipate that your monthly usage will be recorded on the same day each month. You will be able to more accurately know and compare each month's usage. You may notice a meter reader no longer has to visit your meter each month.
- Will my new meter make my bills higher?
Advanced meters measure utility usage in exactly the same way as our current meters. The new meters will continue to measure only the actual amount of service you use, and the meter itself will not cause your bills to increase or decrease. What's more, our advanced meters have been tested under various conditions and show consistently accurate readings.
- Will the new meters cause rates to change?
Sioux Center Municipal Utilities will not change rates with the implementation of advanced meters. The data provided by advanced meters will allow us to evaluate consumption information and confirm that utility rates are allocated properly. In the future, we might consider Time of Use (TOU) electric rates – which offer lower rates during off-peak hours and higher rates during peak hours.
- Are advanced meters safe and accurate? Yes they are. Advanced meters are subject to strict manufacturing design standards and must meet standards and requirements set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the safety requirements and standards of the National Electric Safety Code (NESC). Advanced meters are installed and uninstalled only by trained professionals exercising standard safety precautions.
- Will the communication system interfere with my home or business equipment?
Advanced meters should not adversely affect the stability or performance of your home wireless networks. The FCC regulates all electronics to prevent one type of electronic equipment from interfering with other electronic and wireless devices that operate in the same frequency band.
- Will my account and usage information remain confidential? Our system is, and will continue to be, in compliance with standards for cyber security and privacy. Our systems also comply with federal and state regulations. Meters and the associated communications system are encrypted and equipped with security features to prevent unauthorized access.Sioux Center Municipal Utilities adheres to strict policies, following state laws that regulate the use of personal information gathered for business purposes such as billing and customer service.
- Will SCMU be able to tell what I'm doing in the privacy of my home? No. SCMU will be able to collect data on how much energy, natural gas, and/or water you use at specific times, but we will have no way of knowing how you used energy, natural gas, or water (for example, what appliances you were using) during any time.
- What amount of radio frequency is emitted from advanced meters? The radio frequency (RF) emitted by advanced meters is very low-field and intermittent. In fact, these meters only transmit for a few seconds out of every hour, totaling less than a minute a day. RF emitted by these meters is well below the limits set by the Federal Communications Commission and below the levels produced by other common household devices like cell phones, baby monitors, satellite TVs, and microwave ovens. You would have to be exposed to an advanced meter for 375 years to equal the RF emissions you get from using a cell phone for 15 minutes a day for one year.
- Do I have the option to continue having my meter read manually? We're exploring options to provide a manual meter-reading service to customers who wish to pay for it. The cost would reflect the time and expense involved in sending employees to manually operate the older devices.
- If I have questions about my meter upgrade, who can I talk to? You can stop in the Sioux Center City Office at 335 1st Avenue NW or give us a call at 722-0761 and we would be happy to visit with you about the meter changes.