Innovation in Rural Alberta
New automated metering technology is coming to EQUS meters in 2020.
EQUS is committed to providing dependable electrical distribution services at competitive rates and investments in innovative technology such as Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI) are an investment in keeping rates low over the long-term. AMI technology is an integrated system of smart meters, communications networks and data management systems that enable two-way communication between members' meters and EQUS. A successful pilot project took place in 2018 in select locations throughout the Central Area that saw several meters and a small network function very well.
A unique system of meters and collectors have been developed to overcome some of the challenges of deploying this technology in a rural environment. AMI technology can often be found in municipal centers where a cluster of meters creates a strong signal, however EQUS will be the first utility in Alberta and Canada to adapt and deploy this technology with ultra-rural meters that are often separated by significant distances. Our mission is to be the rural power provider of choice and it is our goal that this AMI project will help EQUS better serve our members.
EQUS CEO, Andy Metzger shares the exciting news that beginning in October 2020, EQUS members no longer need to read their meters:
Benefits of AMI
What are the benefits to members?
The installation of this equipment will eliminate the need for manual meter reads as well as fees for EQUS staff meter reads for Central (Innisfail) and North (Onoway) Area members. These smart meters are capable of two-way communication meaning that EQUS staff will be able to access member consumption information and better manage demand. In the event of an outage the meter will immediately notify EQUS enabling crews to respond faster and ultimately reduce outage times.
The new AMI meters will also be micro-generation ready so members who wish to become micro-generators can easily do so without EQUS having to change the meter.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- What is AMI?
Automated Metering Infrastructure.
- What is AMI technology?
AMI technology is an integrated system of smart meters, communication networks and data management systems that enables two-way communication between the meters and EQUS staff or members. Meters will record energy consumption every 15 minutes and securely transmit this information to EQUS.
- When will I get my meter, what is the timeline of the roll-out?
The meters are scheduled to be installed in April – July 2020 in EQUS’ Central (Innisfail) Area and from August - November 2020 for members in the North (Onoway) and South (Claresholm and Medicine Hat) Areas. Members can find AMI project information on our website, in the member newsletters and specific information through a bill insert prior to their meter installation. See our Service Area map to find out which area you’re in.
- How will I know when my meter is getting changed?
EQUS members will receive a notice in their bill prior to their meter being changed. All AMI meter replacements will be contracted to a third party. Changing the meter will take approximately 10 minutes and the contractor will notify you when they are on site, if you are available, you will be notified that there will be a short power outage, just prior to changing out the meter. The contractors will have EQUS approved contractor cards with them and their vehicles will have EQUS signage on both side doors.
- Is any of this new equipment dangerous to be around, are there health concerns related to EMF and RF signals?
No, the equipment is safe and will be installed by professionals. Advanced meters are certified to meet government and professional safety standards. They operate well within Health Canada’s wireless signal guidelines and comply with the strictest international standards. The signals from the meters are much lower than common devices, such as Wi-Fi routers, cell phones and baby monitors.
All electronic devices have an electromagnetic field, this includes lights, cell phones, computers, and household appliances. Learn more about electromagnetic fields here. See the World Health Organization's assessments of the public health risks of electromagnetic fields here.
Smart meters transmit data using radio frequency (RF) signals similar to those used by your cell phone, and wi-fi router. Health Canada regulates these frequencies, and has concluded that exposure to RF energy from smart meters does not pose a public health risk. Learn more about Health Canada's Safety Code Six and RF regulations here.
- Will the signals interfere with my phone, garage door, pacemaker etc.?
No, the equipment is safe and the radio transmissions occur on a frequency different from those used by television signals, cordless phones, garage doors, and pacemakers.
- When can I stop reading my meter and submitting it?
As of October 2020, EQUS members no longer need to read their meters or submit any meter readings.
- How will I know that you have my reading and not someone else’s?
Each device has a unique identification number, which is associated with your account, which is transmitted along with the meter reading ensuring that EQUS staff will know which account that reading is for.
- How will member information be protected?
Protecting member information is a priority for EQUS. The meter does not contain any personal or location information. All usage data is encrypted and transmitted through a secure radio frequency network and private Telus cellular network to be housed in EQUS’ protected network.
- How many years will this AMI system operate?
The intent is for EQUS to keep this system operational for a minimum of 10 years to achieve the greatest benefits and cost efficiencies for both members and staff. As such this project is considered a long term investment.
- How much will this system cost members?
The installation of AMI technology will ultimately save EQUS members money due to reduced annual costs, however building the network infrastructure and installing the smart meters will have an initial cost that will be financed and paid back by members. The net cost to members is estimated to be $6M and will be financed over a term that will be decided upon by the Board of Directors with a low monthly charge to members.
EQUS has received grant funding to cover $2.7 million of the total costs of the project. The Province of Alberta, through Alberta Innovates, has committed $500,000 and the federal government, through Natural Resources Canada, has committed $2.2 million in funding to the implementation of EQUS' Automated Metering Infrastructure.
If you have additional questions please email AMI@equs.ca