Frequently Asked Questions
UniSource Energy Services’ automated meters can be read remotely through low-energy wireless communications. The following questions and answers offer more information about this technology.
UniSource’s automated meters offer an accurate, affordable way to measure energy usage. They also enable new pricing plans that provide our electric customers with new ways to save while promoting more efficient use of our local energy grid. The following questions and answers offer more information about this technology.
Why is UniSource installing new meters for electric customers?
As part of ongoing efforts to modernize our electric delivery service, UniSource is installing an Advanced Metering Infrastructure system. This system improves meter reading efficiency while providing data that supports reliable service for electric customers. It also will help UniSource manage the integration of new energy resources and offer services that help customers reduce energy consumption and save money.
How do automated meters work?
Our automated meters transmit usage data through a wireless radio frequency (RF) signal. The meters communicate for very brief periods of time at a low signal strength throughout the day. Because these transmissions last only a few milliseconds, the meters typically communicate for less than 1½ minutes per day.
What are the benefits of UniSource’s automated meters?
Our electric meters communicate usage data automatically, reducing meter reading errors and allowing more frequent reads that support time-of-use and demand-based pricing plans. Sending fewer employees to physically read meters also reduces fuel consumption and pollution, allowing more efficient, environmentally friendly operations.
In addition, the meters notify UniSource of outages and fluctuations in voltage. This improves service restoration times and assists with preventive maintenance that can prevent outages and improve the reliability of your electric service.
Do automated meters protect customer privacy?
Yes. Customer-specific data such as names, addresses and account numbers are not transmitted by automated meters. The meters use advanced encryption technology to prevent unauthorized access to data and the utility network.
How is meter data transmitted to UniSource?
Readings are transmitted wirelessly using RF signals that are similar to signals used by cordless phones and many other consumer devices.
Electromagnetic fields, radio waves, microwaves and wireless signals are collectively referred to as RF energy. RF energy is used in various electronics and common appliances in your home such as garage door openers, radio and television broadcasting, baby monitors, cellular phones and wireless headphones, to name a few.
How does UniSource ensure that its meters are safe?
UniSource’s automated meters comply with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) standards for the safe use of RF energy, and the RF energy used is well below FCC limits. In addition, federal health and safety agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration consistently monitor and regulate RF safety.
In October 2014, the Arizona Department of Health Services completed a study about the use of automated meters and concluded that the RF radiation from electronic meters is below the FCC standard of 6 watts per square meter. Read the study, conducted on behalf of the Arizona Corporation Commission.
Can I opt out of using a new automated meter at my home?
UniSource is continuously improving its metering system for electric customers. If you qualify, you can choose to receive a new non-transmitting meter. After meter installation, your account will be charged a $26 monthly fee to cover the higher cost of reading and maintaining a meter that must be read manually.
If you currently have a one-way automated meter or a new, two-way automated meter and request a non-transmitting meter, a one-time $47 Automated Meter Opt-Out Set-Up Fee will be charged to your account. If UniSource initiates and schedules a meter exchange and you request a non-transmitting meter before installation occurs, this fee may not be charged.
Customers must meet these criteria to qualify for a new, non-transmitting meter:
- Take service under the Basic (Residential Service) pricing plan.
- If you don’t own the property, obtain signed permission from the property owner.
- You will be responsible for providing UniSource employees safe access for meter installation, reading and maintenance. Failure to do so may result in termination of your opt-out status and the installation of a new automated meter.
- If your service is disconnected more than one time in 12 months for nonpayment, your opt-out status may be terminated.
- Other criteria may be required to qualify for a non-transmitting meter.
If your building owner chooses to opt-out the entire building, the owner will be responsible for paying all fees associated with the non-transmitting meters for all units.
Please contact Customer Care at 1-877-837-4968 if you would like to opt out or if you have questions.