Skip to Main Content

What is a Smart Meter and Other Metering Questions Answered


A meter is a device that records the usage of resources including electricity, natural gas, and drinking water. Over the years, meter technology has advanced from simply tracking usage to include technology that automatically communicates information and manages data in more complex ways. Read on for an explanation of the evolution of meter technology and the benefits each new technology brings.

Automated Meter Reading (AMR)

Automated Meter Reading (AMR) is a commonly used meter technology that requires the meters to collect and store usage data until the data is collected by a drive-by meter technician using radio technology. Prior to AMR, utility meter readers had to go to each meter and manually read and record the usage. AMR added significant efficiency to the monthly meter reading process. These meters are utilized for the majority of our natural gas customers.

Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI)

Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI) uses a communication system to transmit data automatically and provides added benefits such as improved timeliness of usage data, improved outage reporting, the ability to offer alternative rate structures, and improved tamper detection. The term “Smart Meter” is synonymous with AMI technology. Our electric customers were transitioned to our first version of AMI over a decade ago.

AMI Interval Metering

Our original AMI installation was state of the art when it was installed but has been outpaced by new technology that can provide more information in a timelier fashion. Our Grid Modernization Plan includes an AMI meter replacement effort to transition all electric meters to advanced interval metering functionality. Interval metering provides a granular record of energy consumption made in regular intervals throughout the day, recording how much energy was used and when. Other benefits to this technology include data sharing, outage reporting, advanced planning and forecasting, system monitoring, and the ability to support innovative rate designs.

Interval metering will enable us to offer enhanced rate plans which could help participating customers better manage their energy usage and lower their bills. The new technology will also provide more detailed usage information which will empower customers to adjust behaviors and consider products and programs which could lead to a reduction in energy consumption.

Interval metering also benefits the electric grid. Enhanced rate offerings will incentivize customers to shift their usage to off peak hours when electricity is in lower demand. This benefits the grid by reducing stress during peak use times and limiting the need for investments to add capacity to the system. Interval metering supports demand response programs and other energy management activities that rely on automation to reduce electricity consumption at peak times. Learn more about peak demand here.

Key Takeaways

  • AMI meter technology automatically transmits data to a utility.
  • AMI interval metering provides more timely energy usage data, empowering customers to manage their energy consumption and lower their electric bill.
  • AMI interval metering benefits the electric grid by supporting demand response and other energy management activities that reduce peak demand.