Broadcasting Meters

power meter with digital display

Broadcasting meters, also known as smart meters, are innovative devices with the potential to transform the way electricity is used. Access to your energy information on a near-real-time level, greater reliability and faster power restoration are just a few of the many benefits of these meters. To help you become familiar with your broadcasting meter, please see answers to commonly asked questions below.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a broadcasting meter?
A broadcasting meter is a digital electric meter that collects energy use information and sends that data to Central Lincoln through a secure telecommunications connection.
How does a broadcasting meter work?

The broadcasting meter records your energy use information throughout the day. Your energy use information is sent to Central Lincoln several times a day using radio frequency (RF) waves. This is similar to the wireless communications used by cell phones and WiFi, but at much lower levels.

The meter will transmit data for an average of 83 seconds per day total. Each transmission averages a very brief 48 milliseconds. Once within Central Lincoln’s secure firewall, the information is matched up with your electric account for billing.

What is the benefit of having a smart meter?
  • The meters allow us to identify problems remotely and respond quickly. The data from the broadcasting meter helps us better monitor our entire electrical system during power outages. For example, the data allows us to see when all homes have their power restored — an especially important feature during stormy weather and cold spells. We may know your power is out before you do!
  • Broadcasting meters help Central Lincoln provide better service with accurate meter readings, faster problem indication and resolution.
  • Since the meters communicate electronically, we’re reducing traffic and vehicle emissions caused by driving to read the meter, to turn the meter on for customers moving in, or to turn the meter off for customers moving out.
  • Broadcasting meters can also help customers manage their energy use by providing daily energy information.
Is the usage information transmitted by a broadcasting meter secure?

Yes. The broadcasting meter will send only your energy use information and meter identification number to Central Lincoln.

The following information will never be stored in Central Lincoln’s broadcasting meters:

  • name
  • address
  • driver’s license number
  • social security number
  • date of birth
  • credit card or banking information
  • personal ID number
  • utility account number

Safety and Security of Broadcasting Meters

Safety is our highest priority. Central Lincoln will meet appropriate standards and industry best practices.

The broadcasting meters we install meet the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) requirements and are certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Certification ensures that should the meters encounter an equipment failure, such as a short circuit, they will respond in a safe manner. As part of this certification, our meters are independently tested and inspected during the manufacturing process.

Broadcasting meters incorporate a low-power (less than half a watt) radio to communicate total household electric usage information. This radio transmits intermittently throughout the day using brief pulses lasting less than one second in duration.

Studies indicate that broadcasting meters present an extremely low level of radio frequency (RF) exposure, well within the safety limits defined by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

According to the FCC, the Electric Power Research Institute and the World Health Organization, no adverse short- or long-term health effects have been shown to occur from RF signals produced by broadcasting meters or other wireless networks.

Central Lincoln’s meters will comply with power limits and radio frequency ranges set by the FCC and meet American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) metering standards.

The level of emissions is generally lower than other RF-emitting devices in your home, such as wireless laptops (1.1 to 2.2 times more than broadcasting meters) and cell phones (3.3 – 1,100 times more than broadcasting meters) and microwaves (550 times more than broadcasting meters).

Illustration: devices emitting radio waves. Text: "Smart Meter. Wireless Laptop: 1.1 – 2.2 times more than smart meters. Cellphone: 3.3 – 1,100 times more than smart meters. Health Impacts of Radio Frequency from Smart Meters by California Council on Science and Technology, April 2011."

Broadcasting meters cannot track and record individual appliance usage; instead, they record whole-house usage. Broadcasting meters do not transmit personally identifiable information.