Truths vs. Myths: A Closer Look at AMI

There’s no doubt that advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) is one of the most popular topics of conversation in the utilities industry today. And given the rapid rise in installations and use across the world, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that nearly 70% of all electric meters have migrated to smart-enabled devices. Meanwhile, research from one analyst firm predicts the installed base of water utility AMI endpoints in Europe and North America will double between 2021 and 2027. 

Yet, despite its prevalence in the marketplace, much confusion still exists—particularly among consumers—regarding how AMI works and the benefits this emerging technology provides. That’s why we wanted to offer up a handful of AMI truths and myths to help clear up any lingering confusion.

Truth: AMI gives consumers more data on their usage and opportunities to make changes 

Prior to the advent of AMI, consumers weren’t given much insight into their consumption habits outside of receiving a one-time monthly bill with the total amount used and the cost due. However, AMI has changed the entire landscape. Because it features smart-enabled devices that are always on, AMI can feed near real-time consumption data directly to the consumer via an online portal. In these portals, consumers can see how much product they are using at any given time, even slicing and dicing the data down to the hour. By analyzing peak periods of usage, consumers can improve their consumption habits, which not only saves them money but also contributes to saving the environment.

Myth: AMI is dangerous because it uses radio frequency radiation (RFR) 

This is a myth that we often hear, and we certainly can’t say we blame people for being concerned about their health. The good news is that there is nothing to worry about! Many different health experts, including those representing the state of Vermont and the World Health Organization, have said there are no reported adverse effects related to RFR. Further, the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative adds, “In fact, you would have to be exposed to the RF from a smart meter for 375 years to get a dose equivalent to that of one year of 15-minutes-per-day cell phone use.”

Truth: AMI results in faster, more accurate billing 

This one is good news for both consumers and the utility—especially customer service staff who find themselves on the other end of a phone call with an unhappy consumer. Because everything is automated and digital, AMI dramatically shortens the time it takes for a consumer to receive a bill from as much as 60 days to practically instantaneously. Additionally, unlike analog meters that require manual intervention and reading, AMI isn’t subject to human error or misreporting. 

Myth: AMI costs consumers in the long run 

This belief, while understandable, is also unfounded. AMI and related smart meters are installed outside consumers’ homes and businesses at no charge to the consumer. In addition, maintenance of the smart meters is no more costly than that of the traditional meters that have been in place for decades. Lastly, as mentioned earlier, AMI often empowers consumers to improve their usage habits in ways that can actually lead to reduced monthly bills. 

Truth: AMI is secure and does not put consumers’ data or identity at risk 

In the same way other consumer-focused areas like banking have increased their cybersecurity efforts, so, too, have utilities. AMI uses some of the most stringent and advanced security and encryption technology available to ensure important details about the consumer remain closely guarded and protected.

Myth: AMI gives too much power to the utility 

This one is unequivocally false, and it’s our belief that the opposite is true. While some people believe that AMI has the ability to turn on appliances in the home or invade your privacy by monitoring specifics like which appliance is consuming energy, those claims simply aren’t valid. Even if that was possible—which it’s not—there are strict policies and laws in place that prevent it from happening. Now more than ever, consumers have access to granular consumption data, and that’s all due to AMI.

Interested in chatting more about any of these AMI truths and myths? Our team would gladly discuss and review our approach to meter services. Contact us by filling out this form or calling (888) 667-1411.