Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)

Setting the base for a stronger energy system and future

We've powered our communities for more than a century. As technologies advance, we’re taking the necessary steps to continue delivering safe, reliable, and cost-effective electricity.

Advancements to our energy system help us provide new tools for you to save energy and money. This includes transitioning to technologies like Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI).

Why advanced meters benefit you

AMI is a technology upgrade that lays the groundwork for us to better meet your needs for reliable service. When combined with the systems we have in place today—and those we’ve identified for future implementation—you’ll have more visibility into your energy use (helping you save energy and money) and we'll be able to respond to outages faster and more precisely.

Long term, advanced meters help us keep your costs low and will provide insight into new rate options that can help you save money.

As your energy provider, we’re committed to meeting your needs for reliable service and the continuous improvement of our systems. AMI is the next step toward building a stronger electrical system, allowing us to continue delivering safe, reliable, and cost-effective energy for decades.

How advanced meters work

Electric meters measure the amount of electricity delivered to a home or building.

An advanced meter captures and reports electricity use and provides real-time information via a secure wireless communications network, allowing for two-way communication between the device and Otter Tail Power.

Have questions? Check out our FAQs, below.

Picture of AMI meter

How we install advanced meters

Meter upgrades are quick and easy.

We’ve contracted Allegiant Utility Services, whose employees will install the new meter on our behalf. All contractors will have a photo ID badge. The process will take about five minutes, during which we’ll safely pause your service for less than a minute. Please make sure there isn’t anything preventing access to your current meter. If Allegiant can safely access your meter, you don’t need to be there during the meter exchange.

We’ll inform you of your estimated installation timeframe a few weeks in advance. You can expect to see an Allegiant employee (with photo ID) sometime between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. If they have any difficulty accessing your meter, they’ll leave a door hanger requesting you call to schedule an installation date and time. Thank you for accommodating Allegiant employees as they help us improve our service to you.

We plan to begin installing advanced meters for all customers in February 2024, starting in the southern part of our service area in and around Milbank, South Dakota, and Morris, Minnesota. We'll reach out to you prior to installing the new meter and will update the estimated installation dates as we go. Please check back frequently for new information.

Estimated meter installation (by location and month)

How your electric bill will change

Once we’ve upgraded the meter, your monthly electric bill will look a bit different. While the location of some charges on your bill will change, this layout change will not affect your electric rates.

Prior to advanced meters, we stated current and previous meter readings on each bill. After advanced meter installation, your bill will note the billing period dates and will not include meter readings.

Image of bill

Bills will still state your total kilowatt-hours (kWh) used. Once we’ve installed advanced meters for all customers, you’ll be able to see your electric use in more detail by logging in to My Account.

Curious about opting out of advanced meter communication abilities?

All customers will receive a new advanced meter.

Eligible Minnesota residential customers on our standard rate can choose to opt out of the benefits associated with advanced meter technology. While we’ll still upgrade the meter to an advanced meter, we’ll disable meter communications. An advanced meter with communication ability transmits information wirelessly to us. Because we need to read non-communicating meters manually with an on-site visit, there’s a monthly meter reading fee for customers who choose to disable meter communications. With a non-communicating meter, you’ll also have limited energy use information.

Opting out of advanced meter technology limits our efficiency and overall customer savings, so the following associated fees apply for eligible Minnesota customers who choose to opt out of advanced meter technology:

  • One-time fee of $226.82
  • Monthly fee of $80.10

These fees reflect the average costs for turning off the communicating radio in the meter, manual meter reading, and reactivating the communicating radio if you move or later choose to receive AMI services. These fees will be added to your regular electric service bill.

To opt out of advanced meter technology, please call us at 800-257-4044.

All customers will receive a new advanced meter.

Eligible North Dakota residential customers on our standard rate can choose to opt out of the benefits associated with advanced meter technology. While we’ll still upgrade the meter to an advanced meter, we’ll disable meter communications. An advanced meter with communication ability transmits information wirelessly to us. Because we need to read non-communicating meters manually with an on-site visit, there’s a monthly meter reading fee for customers who choose to disable meter communications. With a non-communicating meter, you’ll also have limited energy use information.

Opting out of advanced meter technology limits our efficiency and overall customer savings, so the following associated fees apply for eligible North Dakota customers who choose to opt out of advanced meter technology:

  • One-time fee of $120.00
  • Monthly fee of $20.00

These fees will be added to your regular electric service bill.

While these fees don't reflect the full costs of the following services, they do help recover the costs associated with: turning off the communicating radio in the meter, manual meter reading, and reactivating the communicating radio if you move or later choose to receive AMI service. 

To opt out of advanced meter technology, please call us at 800-257-4044.

All South Dakota customers will receive a new advanced meter with communication ability.

Frequently asked questions

Q: When will I receive the new meter?
A: In late 2023 we installed approximately 500 meters to ensure our system integrations work as designed. We’re planning to install advanced meters at customers’ homes and businesses throughout our service area beginning in February 2024 and completing in early 2025. You can expect to receive mailings from us a few weeks before we upgrade your meter. Please see the "How we install advanced meters" section above for more information.

Q. Do your employees and contractors carry identification?
A. It’s good to be on the lookout for scammers. Our employees and contractors will carry identification that notes they are employed or contracted by Otter Tail Power Company. Please call us at 800-257-4044 if you need to verify.

As a reminder, neither Otter Tail Power employees nor our authorized contractors’ employees—like Allegiant—will accept or request payment from you. You can find more scam warning signs at otpco.com/AvoidScams.

Q. Can I keep the current meter?
A. All customers in our service area will receive a new advanced meter. The current electromechanical meters have served us and our customers well for many, many years and updating our entire meter fleet with new advanced meters will improve accuracy and functionality. By upgrading all customer meters, we’re also gaining efficiencies by using a single meter platform for consistency in employee service and support.

If you’d like to consider disabling communications from the new advanced meter, please see the “Curious about opting out of advanced meter installation?” section above.

Q. How much does AMI cost me?
A. While you won’t receive a bill for meter installation, we do recover costs for AMI through bill riders in each of the states we serve. In the long term, AMI helps keep costs low by eliminating many manual tasks we currently include in our rates.

Q. Will this mean you can control electricity at any time?
A. We control electricity to your home or business only if you’ve enrolled in one of our optional off-peak programs or in the rare occasion the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) would call upon Otter Tail Power to conduct controlled service interruptions to help maintain reliability of the electric grid. MISO is the organization that oversees energy delivery from utilities across the central United States.

Q. Can Otter Tail Power shut off my power remotely?
A. Advanced meters do provide the ability to remotely connect and disconnect service, which is more efficient for both our customers and our employees.

We won’t disconnect service to a customer with past-due bills unless we’ve contacted them multiple times and provided written notification. If you’re having trouble paying your electric bill, please call us at 800-257-4044 as soon as you can to discuss possible payment arrangements or visit otpco.com/HelpPaying for additional resources.

Q. How often will you access data from the meter?
A. With advanced meters, we’ll receive meter use data at varying frequencies:

  • Daily, for billing.
  • Every four hours, to:
    • Assist with troubleshooting power quality issues.
    • Model current and new rate designs that better meet customer needs.
    • Support reliability and system improvements.
  • Instantaneous, as needed, to inform outage restoration efforts or other issues.

Q. How is Otter Tail Power using data from the meter?
A. We use meter data to generate bills, assist with troubleshooting power quality issues, inform outage restoration efforts, model current and new rate designs that better meet customer needs, and support reliability and system improvements.

Q. Where can I find my meter use information?
A. Once we’ve installed advanced meters for all customers, we’ll integrate meter use information into your online account. You'll be able to find your meter use information by logging in to My Account.

Q. How are you protecting my meter use information?
A. To mitigate the risk of cybersecurity incidents, we steadfastly adopt and maintain policies, processes, controls, and technologies to maintain physical, electronic, and information security. We test these policies, processes, controls, and technologies regularly with internal and external resources. And we actively participate on boards of directors and in programs and organizations designed to keep cybersecurity at the forefront. Data is encrypted in your meter before it’s sent to us.

Vendors that support our systems may occasionally have access to meter data for maintenance, support, and troubleshooting. Approved system users will see account numbers and location numbers associated with individual meters but will not have access to customer names or billing information. Any data access is only to support our company’s business needs.

Q. Are advanced meters safe?
A. Advanced meters transmit radio frequency electromagnetic fields (EMF) signals that emit low-energy radiation similar to Wi-Fi and cell phones.

Our advanced metering network was designed, built, and tested by Landis + Gyr to be compliant with all applicable FCC regulations for power output and radiated emissions. According to Landis + Gyr, the network (including advanced meters) complies “with acceptable safe levels of human exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic fields as defined by FCC OET Bulletin 65.” The advanced meters “use a radio that transmits at a peak output power of between 23 dBm and 25 dBm, which is equivalent to 250-400 milliwatts. The FCC limit for this application is 1 watt at the source, meaning meters transmit at an average power level that is one-third or less of the FCC limit.”

Can’t find the answer you’re looking for? Please call our Customer Service team at 800-257-4044. We’re happy to help.

Check back regularly for updates as we continually work to improve our service to you.