Welcome to the My Co-op Empowers Me pages. Here you will find more in-depth information about the "smart meter" project currently underway in New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC) territory. The My Co-op Empowers Me program consists of two parts, the development of a Communications Systems Infrastructure (CSI) and the creation of an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). Both the CSI and the AMI are further explained in the Frequently Asked Questions part of this site.
As a member-owned cooperative, we exist to serve our members as effectively and as efficiently as possible. The My Co-op Empowers Me program will enable us to better serve you and empower you with the tools you need to manage your own energy use.
What is a smart meter?
From June of 2011 until the end of 2012, NHEC will be replacing all existing member electric meters with "smart meters." Smart meters look similar to existing meters but no longer feature spinning dials. They have digital output readings similar to those on your digital alarm clock or car stereo. These digital readings travel via a wireless communications network, offering more accurate readings in a more timely fashion. This type of reading provides members with more detailed information about their energy usage and also provides NHEC with operational efficiencies.
Traditional electromechanical meters (left) appear quite similar to the new smart meters being deployed across NHEC service territory (right). Instead of gears and dials, however, the smart meters have a digital display and contain a small ¼ Watt radio that transmits readings a few times a day.
How do they work?
Think of your smart meter as one link in a big chain. Your meter will automatically report readings and interval data a few times per day. Each transmission, approximately 1.5 seconds in duration, can travel up to 1,600 feet. In most cases, your meter will be reporting readings to the next closest meter, which gathers that data, adds its own readings and moves it along to the next meter in the chain. Eventually, that bundle of data reaches a gatekeeper. (Repeaters will be installed on existing poles to relay the readings of those meters that are located more than 1,600 feet away from the closest meter.) Each night, the gatekeepers will transmit their bundles of readings via a mid-tier radio system to the nearest "takeout point," where the data will be sent back to NHEC headquarters in Plymouth for processing via one or more of the 20 microwave tower sites that form the Communications System Infrastructure (CSI). To assure the robustness and security of the system that carries all this data, NHEC has also installed a 30-mile stretch of fiber optic cable that connects our Plymouth headquarters to our facility in Meredith, which will provide a back-up operations center in the event that Plymouth is unavailable.
Why are we upgrading all meters?
As a cooperative entity, NHEC is committed to bringing the most reliable and efficient service possible to its members. Our commitments to maximizing member dollars and providing energy-wise solutions have led us to the implementation of the smart meter system.
The smart meter is an ideal tool for members interested in the opportunity for energy and cost savings. Periodic energy readings will be reported wirelessly throughout the day to NHEC, which means NHEC will no longer need to send a meter reader to your property. These readings, including hourly usage charts, will be accessible to members via a secure, online portal located on the My Account page at www.nhec.coop. Through this portal, members have the opportunity to view their usage patterns and make efficiency or usage choices that save energy and money. Smart meters can also assist in reporting outages. In the event of an outage, your smart meter automatically contacts NHEC's 24-hour Control Center. With more specific information about the location of outages, NHEC crews are able to respond more efficiently with the goal of getting the power back on sooner.*
Click here to learn more about smart grid technology.
* Wireless usage reporting, web portal and outage reporting features will be available when the communications system infrastructure is fully operational in late 2012. Until then, a meter reader may still need to visit your property for monthly readings. Members should also continue to report power outages to NHEC by calling 1-800-343-6432.