More than 750,000 Ameren Illinois customers can expect to see "advanced meters" installed in their homes by 2019.
According to SmartGrid.gov, “Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) is an integrated system of smart meters, communications networks, and data management systems that enable two-way communication between utilities and customers.”
In other words, the advanced meters can communicate between Ameren and the customer in real time.
Ameren Illinois spokesperson Victoria Busch said the advanced meters’ two-way communication will allow customers to manage their energy usage more efficiently.
“Customers will be able to see their hourly energy usage, where you weren’t able to see that before. Many times you had to wait until the end of the month to see how you use your energy, and then make a monthly adjustment. Whereas now, you’ll be able to see the energy usage more frequently, in hourly increments,” Busch said.
Busch added that the hourly data will assist customers in lowering their monthly bill by showing them exactly when their energy usage is peaking throughout the day.
Busch said the advanced meters will also assist Ameren during power outages.
“With the [advanced meters], we will be able to detect outages sooner so that we can restore that power more promptly. Sometimes we may even be able to detect the outage before the customer even calls us to report it,” Busch said.
The advanced meter rollout requires changes to be made outside of the customers’ homes as well. Ameren Illinois said it's devoting $7 million to two smart grid training centers in order to train employees in the use of the advanced meters.
Ameren is the electrical provider for almost all of west central Illinois.