Building a smart energy future

Later this year, Alliant Energy will begin installing smart meters for customers in its Iowa service area.

Installations will take place over a three-year period as part of a broader upgrade to our electric and natural gas distribution systems. We will begin work in Northeast Iowa.
 
We’ve been operating smart meters and related communications equipment for our Wisconsin customers for 10 years.

Smart meters and related system improvements detect outages faster and will help provide you with better service.  Smart meters are an industry standard, with roughly 65 million currently in place, serving more than 50% of households nationally.

Key benefits of smart meters 

Detecting problems faster
When power goes out, smart meters help identify problems instantly in most cases, which means problem solving can start right away. When the connectivity across our system is upgraded (expected in mid-2018) we will be able to detect most outages automatically and read your meter without needing to visit or disturb you.

Preparing for the future
Smart meters and related system upgrades enable better integration of power from cleaner renewable energy sources, including wind and rooftop solar systems, and provide better opportunity for connecting new and enhanced battery storage options.

Keeping the lights on
Many parts of our current electrical systems are old and reaching the end of their useful life. By installing smart meters and related system upgrades, we’ll be able to continue delivering energy safely, reliably and efficiently.

Giving you more control over your energy bill
When you have better information, you have better control—smart meters capture data in near real-time of how much, and when, you use energy. This capability will allow the introduction of tools that provide greater control of your energy bills.

Next steps

Replacing and upgrading meters across our Iowa service area will be a multi-year process. We’ll notify customers and communities in advance through mail and phone calls, and work to minimize any inconvenience to you.

Frequently asked questions

What is the installation process for customers and businesses?

We’ll notify you by mail and telephone when we’re in your area.

We’ll make an appointment to replace or upgrade meters that are inside or otherwise inaccessible.

No appointment is needed for us to replace meters that are outside and accessible. For outside meters, we’ll leave a phone message a few days in advance of the work.

Please make sure we have your current contact information.

Electric meters will be replaced. Service will be interrupted briefly (a few minutes in most cases) during the replacement.

Gas meters will simply see the addition of a smart module. Service will not be interrupted.

How do smart meters work?

Smart meters use remote two-way wireless communication to retrieve meter data at regular intervals from customers’ smart meters via a radio frequency fixed network. A data management system receives and houses the data for analysis and use by other systems such as customer information and billing, power outage management, load research, and delivery system planning.

What kind of signal do the meters use?

Smart meters produce a low-frequency radio frequency (RF) energy signal for a few seconds per day. The exposure strength and duration are significantly lower than sources like cell phones and radio towers.

Do other devices use radio frequency communications?

Yes. Smart meters are not the only source of RF in the modern environment. In fact, RF comes from a wide variety of sources, from wireless routers and TV towers to baby monitors and microwaves.

What are the health impacts?

An in-depth review of scientific studies by the World Health Organization has shown that the small amount of RF energy from smart meters is not harmful to human health.

Smart meters produce a low-frequency radio frequency (RF) energy signal for a few seconds per day. The exposure strength and duration are significantly lower than sources like cell phones and radio towers.

In addition, exposure drops dramatically with distance. A person who is 10 feet from a smart meter would be exposed to about one one-thousandth as much RF as from using a cell phone.

What type of information is being transmitted?

Only meter numbers, energy usage readings and diagnostic information are transmitted. Personal data is not collected.

How secure is the information being sent from the customer’s meter to Alliant Energy?

Just as banking, credit card, and cable industries secure your information electronically, in the utility industry we use the same advanced security and encryption technology to safeguard your data. We adhere to national cyber-security standards to ensure privacy and security of customer and smart meter data.

How do you ensure accuracy of smart meters?

All of our smart meters are tested for accuracy at the factory, using calibrated reference standards that provide reproducible and verifiable results. While it’s not required, we also sample test shipments of meters received as a secondary check prior to approving meters for installation.

Will the smart meter interfere with other devices?

No. Our system operates under a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license and uses a portion of the 900 MHz radio frequency band separate from that commonly used by consumer products such as cordless telephones and garage door openers. Because of this, our system will not cause interference problems with other wireless devices.

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