I&M begins installation of smart meters around Fort Wayne

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Fort Wayne power usage meters are getting smarter.

FILE: I&M smart meter (Indiana Michigan Power)

Indiana Michigan Power has begun installing smart meters in Fort Wayne. The new meters use secure, two-way wireless communication to measure and record electricity usage and send the information from a customers’ meter to I&M. Customers can access and use the data to control their energy usage.

“So, that really allows us to leverage that technology and pass that benefit off to our customers,” said Cameron Williams, the manager of a media revenue operations for I&M.

Nearly 30,000 smart meters have already been installed across the city. I&M aims to install 57,000 smart meters by end of January 2022 and 195,000 by the end of 2022.

“The new smart meters are part of Indiana Michigan Power’s ongoing commitment to help meet the evolving expectations and needs of our customers,” said Dave Isaacson, vice president of Distribution Region Operations for I&M. “Smart meters give our customers more control over their daily energy usage, can help create smart energy habits, aid in power restoration and smart meters are overall more convenient.”

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How Smart Meters Work

The smart meters are replacing I&M’s existing, outdated meter-reader technology. Smart meters use secure, two-way wireless communication to measure and record electricity usage and send the information from a customers’ meter to I&M, similar to how a cell phone, laptop or TV remote works. The data gathered informs customers what time of day they are using the most energy and helps personalize energy saving tips, for example to take a shorter shower in the mornings.

However, Williams explained that the smart meters do not have the capability to determine or identify what type of devices or appliances our customers are using in your home, or where the energy is specifically coming from.

He also made it clear that these meters won’t impact customers bills.

“The meters themselves won’t per se lower the customer’s bill, I mean, it requires some engagement on the customer’s behalf and so look at it as a tool as a resource that the customer can use to their advantage,” said Williams.

Smart Meter Benefits

Smart meters will enhance the customer experience providing more insight into individual customer use and into their bill. With the advanced technology, customers can take advantage of the following benefits:

  • Monitor usage with 24/7 access
    • Once the smart meter is installed, customers can view their energy use, in both dollars and in kilowatt-hours (kWh), before their bill is available. Customers can access the data with the I&M Mobile App or though their account on www.IndianaMichiganPower.com.
  • Create good energy-saving habits
    • Customers can receive personalized tips on easy ways to save energy as they can see their usage by the hour, day, month or year. Customers can also find more than 100 tips, rebates and other energy efficiency information at www.electricideas.com.
  • Receive proactive alerts
    • Customers can set budget alerts to be informed when their bill reaches a certain amount, enabling them to cut back on usage. This is similar to when cell phone companies send data usage alerts.
  • Eliminate manual meter readings
    • A smart meter sends the customer’s energy use details directly to I&M. If a customer is moving and needs to start or stop service, it can be done remotely, thanks to the wireless technology.
  • Quicker response to outages
    • Smart meters have two-way communication with I&M’s internal systems, alerting the company to outages. This could speed response and restoration times.

Smart Meter Installation Process

I&M will send direct mail, postcards and emails informing customers in advance of their installations with the expected timeline. The company also calls customers and sends them an email about two weeks before installations begin in their neighborhood.

Safety for our crews and customers is of the upmost importance. Please be aware that crews installing smart meters will have vehicles marked with either an I&M logo or I&M contractor logo.

There will be a short interruption to a customers’ electric service during the installation and may need to reset their digital devices. Customers do not need to be home during the installation. Once the installation is complete, a notice will be on the customer’s door. There is no additional charge to the customer for a smart meter.

Smart Meter Opt-Out

Residential homeowners in Indiana and Michigan can decline a smart meter for a monthly fee. The fee varies in each state and goes towards the costs associated with sending an I&M employee to read the meter. Non-residential customers may not decline a smart meter. Customers will receive a letter explaining the Opt-out process prior to a smart meter being installed.

For more information on smart meters, including an installation video, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and a fact sheet, visit www.IndianaMichiganPower.com/SmartMeters.

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