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.

What kind of meters does UES use?

UES uses automated meters that remotely transmit usage data through a wireless radio frequency (RF) signal.

Why does UES use automated meters?

Automated meters offer an accurate, cost-effective way to measure natural gas and electric usage.

Traditional electromechanical meters, which measure electric usage, and analog dial meters, which measure natural gas usage, must be read visually each month.

Usage data from automated meters can be forwarded to us wirelessly, helping to reduce meter reading errors.

Do automated meters provide environmental benefits?

Yes. Because automated meters send usage data wirelessly, UES can be more efficient with its resources. Sending fewer employees to physically read meters reduces fuel consumption and pollution.

How do automated meters work?

Automated meters operate like traditional meters. They measure the amount of electricity or gas delivered to customers through UES’ local systems.

Automated meters periodically communicate these readings through a low-energy wireless signal. The meter readings are forwarded wirelessly to a UES’ computer system and used to bill customers.

Is automated meter reading data secure?

Yes. Customer-specific data such as the name, address and account number is not transmitted by automated meters.

How frequently do automated meters communicate readings?

Automated meters send out readings approximately every 30 seconds. Because these communications last only a few milliseconds, the meters typically are communicating for less than 1 ½ minutes per day.

Most gas meters send out readings less frequently, typically transmitting for a total of less than 15 seconds per day.

What is the power output from the automated meter dial?

The maximum power output from the automated meter dial is less than half a watt. In comparison, common household incandescent light bulbs are rated at 40-60 watts.

What is radio frequency (RF) energy?

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, cellular phones, baby monitors, cordless phones and wireless headphones, to name a few.

Is there any reason to be concerned about exposure to RF signals from automated meters?

UES’ automated meters operate at relatively the same, if not lower, RF as common household appliances and electronics. UES’ automated meters comply with Federal Communication Commission (FCC) regulations, which require wireless communications devices to meet guidelines for safe human exposure to RF energy. In addition, federal health and safety agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and 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 the use of an automated meter at my home or business?

Electric Customers:  Electric customers who choose to opt out of using an automated meter will be charged a $26 monthly fee to cover the higher cost of reading and maintaining non-transmitting meters that must continue to be read manually. Customers who currently have an automated meter and would like to opt out must contact Customer Care at 1-877-837-4968 and request the removal of their automated meter. A one-time $47 Automated Meter Opt-Out Set-Up Fee will be charged for the removal of the automated meter.

Gas Customers:  Gas customers may request to opt out of using an automated meter. At the present time, there is no charge for this option. Customers who would like to opt out must contact Customer Care at 1-877-837-4968 and request the removal of their automated meter.

Who can I contact with any further concerns about the use of automated meters?

If you have questions, please contact Customer Care. Send us a message online or call us at 1-877-837-4968.