Background on AMI

Background

Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) is a fixed information technology (IT) system which is supposed to automate utility billing, optimize utility resources, and provide energy consumers with greater information on their electricity use.

PG&E and SDG&E use the marketing term “Smart Meter” to describe their AMI systems, while SCE markets its AMI technology as “Smart Connect.”

AMI technology allows the utility to read customer meters remotely. Utility employees will no longer go to your residence and read your meter every month. Instead, your meter will automatically communicate information back to the utility company about how much electricity you use. AMI will “read” your meter hourly or daily, versus once per month.

How does AMI optimize utility resources?

Electric, gas and water utilities plan on using AMI systems to identify electricity theft. Gas and water companies can use AMI to find leaks. Electric utilities can remotely turn service on and off for people who are moving, have paid or not paid their bills. The electric utilities can also use AMI to enable Demand Response Programs, which, if successful, could reduce some of the need for new electric generation resources 

How will AMI provide consumers with information?

AMI systems are designed to give customers access to their previous day’s consumption information via internet.  Some AMI systems are designed to give customers access to hourly consumption data. AMI systems can also be designed to provide “real time” information via digital display about the cost of electricity as it is being consumed.    

The utilities believe that AMI systems will provide consumers the information they need to lower their utility bills.  They believe that consumers, when provided with information about their energy use, will modify their consumption, thereby saving money. 

Where are AMI systems being installed?

AMI systems are currently being built around the U.S. for electricity, gas, and water utilities. PG&E, SDG&E and SCE are all currently building and installing AMI systems in their service territories.  Water utilities across the state are currently evaluating the costs and benefits of installing AMI.