By Dallas Braun, General Manager
April 13 is National Lineworker Appreciation Day, a day set aside to express gratitude to the nation’s approximate 120,000 lineworkers who keep the lights on. Lineworkers across the nation truly deserve this special day of recognition. TEC would also like to recognize and thank the 12 linemen that take care of TEC’s electric system.
Most people take for granted what it takes to provide a safe and reliable electric grid. The grid consists of everything needed to get power from a generating plant to the meter on your home. At TEC, this includes 16 substations, which are interconnected by 140 miles of transmission lines, 2,150 miles of distribution lines, and over 12,300 meters providing electric service in the three-county area of the Thumb.
So, the next time you see one of the TEC line crew members shown above, thank them for keeping the lights on.
AMI Deployment Update
The initial deployment to members served from the Ubly substation is ongoing.
At the time of this writing, two propane meters and over 300 of the approximately
800 electric meters on this circuit have already been changed out. It is expected that this circuit will be completed by May. Once it has been determined that the AMI system is functioning as expected, full system-wide deployment will begin. This deployment will consist of installing 35 “communication sites” on 65-foot poles throughout our service area. Using an FCC-licensed, 900-MHz frequency, the new meters will transmit downloaded data to the closest communication tower for approximately 3.5 seconds in a 24-hour period. The data from the communication towers will then be sent to the office via an internet connection.
When the AMI system is operational, one of the biggest changes members will see is that they will no longer have to read and submit their monthly meter reading. This reading will be done automatically on the same day of every month to ensure each billing period is 30 days. Members could see an unusually high or low billing the first month after the meter changeout, however, due to the timing of your normal reading date. Power outages will also be automatically reported by the AMI system, while you will still be able to report an outage, it will no longer be necessary. Members will be able to remotely check on their electric service status, including outages and hourly consumption data.
One concern shared by members is that the new digital meters will register more energy consumption than the old electromechanical meters. In theory, this is possible. An electromechanical meter will, at times, register less than a digital meter. The reason has everything to do with physics. In an electromechanical meter, a low energy load or draw may not be at a level high enough to create a magnetic field, which is needed to turn the disk to register the kWh energy consumption. In essence, the old meter is not capturing all the energy consumed. The new digital meter will. While this reason may be valid through the law of physics, it is not for most TEC members. The industry has not manufactured an electromechanical meter in many years, and as a result, the majority of meters installed on TEC’s system are already digital. Exasperating this concern is the problem some of your DTE neighbors experienced a few years ago. In conjunction with their AMI roll-out, a new billing system was implemented, and this caused issues due to estimated readings, not inaccuracy of the AMI meters themselves.
It is anticipated that system-wide AMI deployment will be completed by early 2021. With a fully deployed and integrated AMI system, there will be many internal operational efficiencies made available, resulting in cost savings for the cooperative. If you have any questions as we continue deployment, please call.
Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Feasibility Study Update
As a result of member communications and a goal outlined by the TEC Board at its 2019 Strategic Planning Session, your cooperative is taking a serious look at offering fiber internet services. TEC has contracted with outside professional consultants to conduct an in-depth FTTH feasibility study. As the financial model is studied and reviewed, input from our members is needed. In the near future, on behalf of TEC, Inside Information will be conducting a random statistical survey of TEC’s membership regarding FTTH services. Internally, TEC will also conduct its own survey, which will be open to 100% of TEC members through a future link on our website for those who wish to participate.