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Country Discussion Topics
To add your comments to this topic, click on one of the 'Reply' links below.

New electric meters, got one?
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Mike in Va.    Posted 02-27-2002 at 09:40:24       [Reply]  [Send Email]
About 4 months ago our electric coop came out and installed a new type of meter. It sends a signal back to the sub-station where the usage is read. We're now billed that way. No more meter readers coming out. The problem with the deal is now our electricity usage is more, and the bills are higher. All our neighbors are having the same difficulty with there new meters too. Any of you had this happen? What is the solution? Our usage has not changed, in fact we've taken some measures to reduce our consumption.
I've installed a 9 watt florescent light in the basement by our woodstove. Now we leave it on all the time instead of turning off & on the lights everytime we check the stove or do other things down there. We use a 4 watt nightlight on the back porch now instead of the 100 watt. Put a timer on our electric hot water heater. Reduced the wattage on most of the bulbs in the house.

Heck, is this the way of the future for rural power?

If so I may just put in one of those mini hydro turbines I've heard about. Its getting so rural energy is getting as costly as the big corporate outfits. Thats not what I thought the rural electrification project had in mind. I'll be interested to read what you folks have to say about it.


KY Girl    Posted 02-28-2002 at 15:38:12       [Reply]  [Send Email]
We read our own meters here in KY. Makes it simpler. There is averaging as well. Anyway you look at it, it is expensive.


Sarge-Facility charge is $23    Posted 02-28-2002 at 14:04:11       [Reply]  [Send Email]
My coop charges $23 a month facility charge and thats before any usage. I dont use much electricity but this charge makes it expensive. Also my hot water tank is radio controlled by them during peak hours which means you might wind up in a cold shower. This program is voluntary though and saves me three bucks a month. The facility charge really ticks me off though, any of you folks pay this type of blackmail?


Tom A    Posted 02-28-2002 at 05:45:46       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Interesting that your usage went up. Ours did as well, though we don't have a new meter. This past billing cycle we used a new record high for the 3+ years we've been in the house...and with both kids gone to college, the wife and I don't use hardly any electricity anymore (few lights, thermostat way down, not much hot water, no dryer etc etc). And yet we set a new record for usage. Now that I see your comments, it is making me wonder if the electric companies are 'cooking' the meter numbers somehow. Sounds paranoid, but who would have thought a major company and their century-old auditors would have the guts to cook their books?

oh well.


Shiloh(Tx)    Posted 02-28-2002 at 00:48:43       [Reply]  [No Email]
As said these are the new turtle meters, which have been around here for several years now. I use to watch my usage very closely (only 1 person & animals on the place). It seemed in the beginning the house was running higher, but thats not the case now. Guess it stablized itself.
But the one at the water shed was a different story. After a while it was reading double what it use to be (even on a daily amount).When the pump wasn't running or anything plugged in the meter was still turning. They said because the power was still hooked up to go to the barn (where the circuit breaker was turned off due to wiring down there being a fire hazard) it was causing the meter to run. They nicely disconnected it for me, but found out the meter was still running, but this time backwards. (With my luck they noticed that), so they replaced the meter & took it in to test it and told me I'd receive a report on it. New meter was within the old usage amounts. After a couple of months and no report, I finally pressed the matter and they said it was over the allowed limit & was reading too fast. Thus they kindly credited my bill for the full time the meter had gone whacky.
On the house its harder to tell. Mine set empty a few months before I moved in and I couldn't believe with nothing plugged in most of the time it was reading so much. Evidentially the capacitors in the 2 ceiling fans I have were the main culprits behind this (though they are not on they are still eating electricity).
I have noticed that elect. prices seem to rise/lower right along with gas prices lately.
Tx has deregulation now, but its up to the coops wether to opt in (which of course mine didn't). But hopefully what I was told by someone who mistakenly called here trying to sell power, this next year it won't be in the coops power to prevent us from bargan shopping for elect. All I want is the right too, wether or not I ever use it.


bob    Posted 02-28-2002 at 06:43:42       [Reply]  [No Email]
believe me deregulation will not be in consumers interest I worked for power co and have afriend in calf who works for state and he can really verify how costs have been driven up by deregulation why do power co push for it my 2 cents


Shiloh    Posted 03-01-2002 at 01:18:46       [Reply]  [No Email]
I don't think Tx will be as irresponsible as Ca is in deregulation. Remember your talking about a state where most everyone is willing to stab someone in the back to get ahead or make a buck. Don't get me wrong, we have our crooks but hopefully not as many as what exist in Ca. What Ca alone wastes in power (leaving lights on etc, kind of like Las Vasgas) could power the whole state for a few years.
Prices even without deregulation are already going up and if you have read anything about it you would know that people can group together in order to get a better deal (in other words form their own coop type buying power)so in this enviroment coops can still exist.
The head of our coop made one big mistake, talking down to people. He stated that we needed to trust him to make the right decisions for us just like we did our parents because he knows so much about it. Call me stupid, but I'd rather pay for my own mistakes than for someone elses. And a few years back they were caught mishandling funds. They constantly say they do what is good for the whole lot of us, but we are not all on equal grounds and employed.
With the price of everything going up except for my retired pay, I need to be able to look out for my own interest and not leave it up to someone that is doing it for the interest of others.
The coops just as unions grew out of a need, but they have out-lived their usefullness and now may be doing more harm than good especially if they are dishonest ones. I for one know that our coop has been getting its power from the same source for years, thus they are not always getting us the best deal.
Its all a matter of choice, and that choice needs to be in our own hands since only we know what is best for ourselves. I for one choose to recycle and if I could afford it I would only buy energy made by windmills instead of that which causes pollution which is where it is coming from right now.
The power outage scare won't work either since Tx has made a backup plan that will cover shortages, plus the fact we have already learned to live with that power anyway thanks to ice storms of the past, people hitting poles, etc.
Unless someone is scratching someone elses back, I don't see what the big deal is. Coops are suppose to be for non-profit so what do they have to lose, its not like they are making money anyway. And they will still be able to sale power just like it is now, except people will have the right to get is elsewhere if they choose to.
So what is the big harm in deregulation? Higher prices? We already will see that no matter whether it is deregulated or not. I may never jump ship and leave my coops power source, but by the same token its a choice I should be able to make for myself.
I can bearly afford my electric bill right now, and my house is cold to be in during the winter and stays on the warm side in the summer. I could just cry from having to be so cold all the time, and the future only looks worse under its present course. I'd rather die than see it get any worse than it already is and thats my 2 cents.




Hal/WA    Posted 02-27-2002 at 16:35:17       [Reply]  [No Email]
Our rural electric co-op still has the customers read and report their own meters, though they do come by about once a year to make sure someone isn't cheating. It is a system they have used for years that seems to work fine and since there is less labor to pay for, the overhead for the co-op is less.

A few years ago, the natural gas company that serves Spokane happened to put a major line down my country road. As I was building a new house, I got hooked up to the natural gas. The gas company put a meter along side my house and I asked them if a meter reader would need to go to the meter to read it, since it was in an area I hoped to fence my 80 pound Boxer in. They explained that the meter will transmit the readings to the meter reader,who would just drive by. I suggested that if they need to go in my dog's yard for some reason, they probably should go to the front door first, and get an escort... They said they would make a computer entry about doing that!

I have seen the meter reader drive by, sometimes stopping briefly. I suspect that the meter is able to transmit the readings only a short distance, as I have seen the same marked car stopping near my neighbors' houses briefly. The transmitter must have a great battery. I do not think my dog would let them change it without a family member out there and the company has never contacted me about it. It seems to work fine, and sure is easier for the company.

When I built the new house, gas was cheap and I bought into it. Now it is way higher and I am thinking of putting in a chimney for at least partial wood heat. Wish I had put it in when the house was going up!


Ludwig    Posted 02-27-2002 at 13:55:55       [Reply]  [No Email]
Kinda surprise I haven't mentioned this here
before. Take a look over at
www.homepower.com. Good folks, alot like
the folks here.
I've been trying to lower our usage too. They
say that every dollar spent saving power is
worth $5 generating. We've gone to almost all
compact flourescent bulbs, the new crop are
pretty good. Here in MA you can get a rebate
from the state what makes some of them only
$2 each.
The big thing though is phantom loads, thats
stuff like leaving the computer plugged in
when you aren' t using it, or the little clock in
the VCR or coffee maker.
My computer is on a power strip with all the
other junk that works with it, I flip the switch
and everythings live, shut it off and power
stops. That alone probably saved $1 a month.
The thing is that I didn't see the change on the
bill right away. I had to contest the bill a couple
times. Our power company does averaging
where no matter what you use this month its
averaged across a couple months.
Theoreticly it helps you in early summer when
you first use the A/C but it kills you again in
fall, and if you go away for awhile. After much
screeching I'm on "real read" so I only pay
what I use.

If we had a house you could be we'd be
making some of our own power. i'd have solar
panels, but no batteries. That way when its
sunny and nice you make power and spin the
meter backwards. When its dark you use off
the grid. Assuming your state has net
metering laws (most do) the electric company
has to pay YOU for the excess you produce.
Lots of states (California is a big one) will pay
part of the cost of your system making this a
great option for many people.


Nathan(GA)    Posted 02-27-2002 at 13:25:13       [Reply]  [No Email]
Not sure if they offer that here or not. Heck, they have a hard enough time keeping the power on! But rest assured if it reads higher, they'll implement it regardless if you want it or not.

I get so sick of reading the publication they send out, preaching "not for profit", "owned by the people". Everything they sell is just as expensive or more than the ones for profit.



geo im Mio    Posted 02-27-2002 at 13:20:06       [Reply]  [No Email]
Our meter reader still comes by--sometimes on snowshoes--and reads the meter. I made up a spreadsheet for my bills to track them. Number of days, KWH usage and price should be all you need to see if your costs are going up, or if it's your usage. Mine stays right in there at $.07
per kilowatt hour. Usage varies depending on the weather and if I am running the air conditioner, or pumping water to the garden. Do you get that information on your monthly bill?


Mark Hendershot    Posted 02-27-2002 at 11:30:07       [Reply]  [Send Email]
One nice thing about the older meters is the older they get the slower they run so you get charged less with a old one than a new one. Those new types of meters use a Freq that rides on the power lines and there are different codes for each meter. Some of the meters used transmit a signal thru the air and when the meter reader goes buy your house it picks it up then. Mark H.


Salmoneye...Um...    Posted 02-27-2002 at 09:47:49       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I guess I do not understand how a 'meter' can feed back your usage through a transformer, 10 miles of line and then a substation or two. How do they know it is your meter and not one of the other 2000 on that line?
Does this thing use a phone line to communicate?
Does it use radio waves?


RayP(MI)    Posted 02-27-2002 at 14:35:43       [Reply]  [No Email]
Ramember those TV antennas that they advertised a few years back? The ones that "use your whole house" as the antenna? All they did was to connect your TV receiver to the power lines with a couple of capacitors which would pass the radio frequencies, without passing the powerline frequencies. They could easily connect such a transmitter to the powerlines, and probably bypass the transformers the same way. Some cities have used similar remote reporting for the water meters. You can request the power company to come out and check the calibration on their meter. Risk is that their new meter might be reading low! Maybe your old meter was reading low too.... Oh, the stress!


Bob /Ont.    Posted 02-27-2002 at 10:42:39       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Hello Salmoneye. I Know signals can be sent through the power lines but I don't think they can pass the transformer. Maybe they are collected there then sent on. This may be part of the "master plan". I got a letter last week from the local hydro concerning theft of power that has been going on, lots of it. The farmland around here is growing a good crop of monster homes, some are vacant, along come the new breed of cash croppers, rent them and start growing.
These cash croppers used to gladly pay for their power, but the hydro must have bragged too much about increased sales and revenue, this caused the croppers problems (vacation at club fed).
Hence the cash croppers became more resourceful,
smash a hole in the basement wall and saddel up the 240 before the meter and take a free ride, the danger here is that when it is wet you can get a buzz from walking on the grass near the hook up.
Also jacusies are great for mixing liquid fertilizer to. Back to the master plan, Power in should = Power out + trans loss. If not they can find the crop, from back at the office.
Bob


Jim(MO)    Posted 02-27-2002 at 10:08:08       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Our house in Kansas City has had remote meter reading for some time. The rural electric company that serves our farm converted a couple of years ago. I guess each meter sends a unique signal. There was some expiermenting going on using electrical wires for cable like access. Internet and TV and such. Haven't heardmuch about that lately. There are a number of devices to network computers in your house using the electric wiring.


Johnny in NE Tx    Posted 02-27-2002 at 16:52:34       [Reply]  [No Email]
I'm out in the sticks and we've had one of these meters for about 3 years, called a "turtle" My electricity is a lot cheaper with the Coop than my city neighbors.


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