Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

AEP Texas is installing nearly 1,000,000 "smart meters," known as its Advanced Metering Infrastructure system (AMI), across its 97,000-square-mile service territory in south and west Texas. AMI is a key component of a larger effort by American Electric Power operating companies to upgrade its electric grid using the latest technologies. Smart Meters will give electric customers greater control over their electric costs, help improve electric system reliability and reduce carbon emissions through energy conservation.

Smart Meters are two-way communication devices with the potential to transform the way electricity is used. However, electric consumers must familiarize themselves with these devices and their capabilities to take full advantage of them. Some answers to frequently asked questions are provided below.

What is the AEP Texas Advanced Metering Infrastructure system (AMI)?

AMI will replace electric meters currently used by AEP Texas with "Next Generation" electronic technology designed to improve customer service and enable customers to proactively control their energy use.

What is a Smart Meter?

A Smart Meter is a digital electric meter equipped with wireless communications technology. Smart Meters are a key part of establishing the smart electric grid of the future. Customers will be able to better manage their use of energy, save money and reduce their impact on the environment with advanced meters.

When will customers receive Smart Meters?

Smart Meters will be deployed throughout the entire AEP Texas service territory starting in 2010 and will take four years to complete the project.

Why are the traditional meters being replaced with Smart Meters?

In a time of rising energy prices, many states are requiring electric utility companies to provide more energy efficiency options. Smart Meters will encourage customers to think more about how and when electricity is used, which, in turn, will help meet current and future energy needs.

What makes a meter "smart"?

Smart Meters are equipped with wireless communications technology. This allows AEP Texas to communicate with Smart Meters remotely so that certain service requests can be completed faster, such as meter reading, service connections and outage notifications.

What are the benefits of a Smart Meter?

The information that a Smart Meter makes available will allow a customer to take control of his or her energy budget. It will enable decisions to be made that conserve energy and natural resources, thus minimizing the impact on the environment. Other benefits include:

  • Improved reliability - Smart Meters will automatically show outage locations so repairs can begin quickly.
  • Enhanced customer service - Through remote capabilities, AEP Texas can provide faster meter reading and service connections
  • Greater privacy - Smart Meters can be read remotely so meter readers no longer have to enter your property. AEP Texas will still need occasional access for testing and maintenance.
  • Reduction in service fees - With remote connection capabilities, service fees can be reduced.
  • Expanded product options - Retail Electric Providers (REPs) may offer new, innovative price plans, such as time-of-use rates or pre-paid metering.
Will my new meter be fully functional after it's installed?

Currently, AEP Texas is building and testing the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) to ensure proper functionality. Smart Meters will not be functional, or "provisioned," until a short period of time after the installation. Until then, outages should continue to be reported to AEP Texas, and Meter Readers will read the new Smart Meters in the traditional way.

Where can customers access their electricity usage information?

Customers can view their electricity usage online by registering at SmartMeterTexas.Com. Having access to more timely and detailed information about electricity usage will allow a customer to make informed energy use choices.

Will the communications system interfere with home equipment?

All communications equipment meets criteria set by the Federal Communications Commission and should not interfere with any equipment inside a home or business.

Will customer account and usage information remain confidential?

Yes. AEP Texas is required to comply with all federal laws regarding the privacy, protection and disclosure of personal information. The meters and the associated communications system are encrypted and equipped with security features to prevent unauthorized access.

I understand that Smart Meters use radio frequency communication. Is this safe?

Smart Meters use the same FCC-approved radio frequencies that have been used for many years in devices such as baby monitors, portable phones, remote controlled toys and medical monitors.

AEP Texas and neighboring co-ops have used radio frequency meters for meter reading in rural areas for many years. The new Smart Meters are no different in terms of exposure to radio frequencies.

RF fields from Smart Meters have been studied and found to emit very low fields and then only intermittently. Any exposure to humans would be extremely small. There are no known adverse biological effects from these small fields. To provide some perspective, under typical operating conditions, an individual meter would transmit for approximately 45 minutes over a 20-year operating life. This should provide significantly less RF exposure than a single cellular phone call of the same length.

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Smart Meters and RF Fields

Advanced digital electric meters -- known as smart meters -- provide customers and utilities with real-time use and price information customers can use to reduce their energy bills. This is possible with wireless communication technology, which produces a very low radio frequency -- or RF -- signal.
How will AEP Texas notify customers when the Smart Meter is going to be installed?

AEP Texas will notify customers through its outreach program, advertising and door-to-door notification plan. Prior to installation, door hangers will be placed at residences that are to receive Smart Meters. The door hanger also will contain useful information about the benefits of Smart Meters. Once the meter is installed, another door hanger will be left at residences. A third door hanger is used if the company is unable to install the meter. In that case, customers are asked to make arrangements with AEP Texas for meter installation.

Can appointments for the meter installation be made?

In general, AEP Texas will give customers a general timeframe when the meter will be installed through its pre-installation door hanger. If our contractor cannot install the meter due to access or safety issues, another door hanger will be left at the customer's premises with a phone number so the homeowner can make arrangements for the meter change out.

Will customers have to pay for the Smart Meter?

Electric customers will pay for the meters over time with a monthly surcharge on their electric bill. Customers will pay an average of $2.53 a month over an 11-year period. It is expected that the savings experienced on electric bills will help defray this cost.

Why do customers have to pay a monthly surcharge if their meter is not yet installed?

Due to the size and scope of this project, the company developed an implementation plan that would deploy Smart Meters over a four-year period while spreading costs over an 11-year period so that it would not impose an economic hardship on customers. The Texas Legislature allowed, and the Utility Commission approved the surcharge to be collected as soon as deployment began.

Will it be easy to read the Smart Meter's digital display?

Yes. Smart Meters have an easy-to-read digital display instead of a series of dials. Customers also can check their usage online at SmartMeterTexas.com.

Will a meter reader still need to come around to read the meter?

After initial installation, meters will continue to be read in the traditional fashion for a period of time until the system is fully functional. Afterwards, Smart Meters will be read automatically so that meter readers no longer will have to enter a customer's property every month. However, AEP Texas employees will continue to need access to the meter for periodic safety and quality assurance inspections and maintenance.

Will this affect meter reader jobs?

Yes. AMI will mean a reduction in the meter-reading workforce, but not right away. Because AMI deployment is scheduled to take place over the course of four years, any impact to the AEP Texas workforce would occur over time. Throughout the deployment, AEP Texas will train qualified meters readers to move into other positions that become available.

What is a Home Area Network (HAN)?

Many companies are developing home area networks (HAN) technology, such as a home energy monitor, which allow a customer to remotely connect to and control automated digital devices or appliances in their home. In the future, a Smart Meter can integrate with the HAN so a customer can remotely turn equipment on or off to help conserve energy.

Does AEP Texas provide customers with home energy monitors?

Home energy monitors will be offered and installed by a third party vendor or Retail Electric Provider (REP), not AEP Texas.

Are there options for low-income customers who may not be able to afford a home energy monitor?

Yes. AEP Texas has set aside funds to assist low-income customers to acquire home energy monitors. This application process is currently being developed. More information will be shared with low-income customers once the program details are finalized.

What happens if the meter is defective and how is this detected?

AEP Texas can remotely monitor the activity of all Smart Meters in its service territory. If the meter is defective, the monitoring systems can determine if testing or replacement is needed.

Does AEP Texas have the authority to install Smart Meters?

Texas House Bill 2129, enacted by the 79th Texas Legislature, directed the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) to report on the efforts of utilities in Texas to deploy advanced metering systems and infrastructure, and to identify any barriers to the implementation of advanced metering, as well as any recommendations to address those barriers. The PUCT passed a rule in support of advanced metering, and the 80th Texas Legislature strongly encouraged the deployment of Advanced Metering Infrastructure in Texas through House Bill 3693. (Source: Public Utility Commission Report to the Legislature on Advanced Metering - September 2008)

After receiving approval from the Public Utility Commission of Texas, major electric utility providers, including AEP Texas, began deployment of Smart Meters throughout the state.

Can AEP Texas or a Retail Electric Provider control my meter and power consumption?

Smart Meters are two-way communication devices that interact between the consumer and power companies. Their primary function is to provide greater reliability, privacy and customer service. One of the biggest benefits to the customer is to provide consumption information that will enable the customer to monitor electric usage and conserve electricity.

In the future, Retail Electric Providers (REPs) may provide time-of-use rates and other offerings to give customers more options and rate offerings. So far, no REP has proposed an interruptible power rate for customers who agree to have their power curtailed in consideration for a lower rate. If interruptible rates are offered in the future, it will only be with the consent of the electric consumer.

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Privacy Policy for AEP Texas, a unit of American Electric Power (AEP)

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AEP Texas uses Flurry Analytics Service (provided by Yahoo) in order to improve its mobile apps. Flurry’s privacy policy governs the use of this information.

Also, AEP Texas reserves the right to share any aggregated information (i.e., non-personally identifiable information) with any third parties for any reason, unless prohibited by law.

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This policy was last revised on December 13, 2017.

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