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1 volume 66 issue 7 July 2016 cooperative REVIEW for members of Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative INSIDE THIS ISSUE: 2016 Annual Members Meeting to be held on August 23, Teach children to stay safe around power lines 6 Around Town 7 Practice boating safety around lines 8 Straight talk about smart meters: safe, secure and accurate SMECO has installed smart meters in several communities throughout Southern Maryland. This initial roll-out is part of a long-term plan to install smart meters throughout the SMECO service territory. Smart meters are just one step in the process of implementing technological improvements to our overall electric system. See the back cover for tips on practicing boating safety this summer. These digital electronic meters utilize two-way communications between SMECO and the meter. This two-way interaction enables SMECO to offer a number of key benefits, including A new digital meter operational efficiencies, more detailed billing information, and the ability to respond to outages more quickly and effectively. So how do smart meters manage this two-way communication? Smart meters use a radio signal to communicate, just like a cell phone, cordless phone, or other devices in your house that use radio signals, such as:

2 Laptop computer or Wi-Fi wireless router Baby monitor or walkie-talkie Remote controlled (or radio controlled) toys Garage door opener Kindle, ipad, or other mobile devices while online The transmissions from these communication devices, like those from smart meters, are harmless when the device is used as designed. SMECO s smart meters are designed to use radio waves to communicate with a brief pulse, only transmitting data for 1/10 of a second each time. The meters also use a very low wattage to transmit their information, much less than a cell phone, cordless phone, or baby monitor. Under normal circumstances, the meters also only transmit once per hour. Because SMECO s smart meters operate very quickly they only send a radio signal for less than five seconds per day. Radio waves are used worldwide for telecommunication. Communication technology adds to the convenience we already enjoy in our daily lives, as will smart meters. Smart meters will enable SMECO to provide better customer service and more options for our members to exercise more oversight of their electric usage. Smart meters are accurate and secure Smart meters measure the energy use of the whole house, just like the meters SMECO currently uses. Smart meters cannot measure the energy use of individual appliances in your house, and SMECO s smart meters cannot be used to control your appliances or the amount of energy you use. 2 Smart meter technology has also been thoroughly tested by manufacturers and utilities using a wide range of tests and equipment to ensure that the meters adhere to the established meter accuracy guidelines set by the American

3 National Standards Institute (ANSI). In addition to being tested thoroughly by the manufacturer, SMECO also tests a random sample of meters before they are installed. Tests have shown that the smart meters are very accurate. Security is a top priority for SMECO. We take all reasonable and necessary steps to ensure the services we provide are extremely secure. Smart meters employ several techniques to enforce security, including data encryption. SMECO currently has cyber security plans and privacy policies in place to protect customer data. And, because your privacy is important to us, SMECO s privacy policy prevents customer data from being sold to a third party. $ When data is collected from a meter and transmitted wirelessly to SMECO, the encrypted information contains specific unique identifers that must be unencrypted in order to be associated with the correct customer. Metering information is validated numerous times to ensure accuracy before monthly bills are generated. This process is similar to cell phone technology; each cell phone has a unique number that goes with every communication which is used to identify a cell tower and connect your call to the correct location. SMECO is committed to ensuring quality service to its customer-members with safe, accurate, and secure smart meters. If you want to learn more about this technology, visit GETTING SMARTER TOGETHER 3

4 2016 Annual Members Meeting to be held on August 23, 2016 The 2016 SMECO Annual Members Meeting will be held Tuesday, August 23, at the Blue Crabs Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf. Register and vote from 4 until 7 p.m. The meeting will start at 7 p.m. and end around 8 p.m. The nominating committee met on May 7, 2016, to choose candidates for the five available seats up for election on SMECO s Board of Directors. The list of nominations follows: Calvert County (one seat available) W. Michael Phipps Charles County (two seats available) Gilbert O. Bowling Vernecia C. Smith Richard A. Winkler Prince George s County (one seat available) James A. Richards St. Mary s County (one seat available) P. Scott White In addition to nominations made by the Nominating Committee, any 15 or more SMECO members acting together may make other nominations by petition. The deadline for nominations by petition was June 24. Members may vote in person at the Annual Members Meeting on August 23, Absentee mail-in ballots are available to members who wish to vote but cannot attend the meeting. Requests for absentee mail-in ballots must be received between July 18 and August 5, To request an absentee mail-in ballot, you can: 4 Call , extension Complete an online form on the Co-op s website at Mail a request for an absentee mail-in ballot to SMECO Annual Meeting, P.O. Box 670, Hughesville, Maryland Please include your account number, your service address, mailing address and daytime phone number.

5 When voting by mail, your completed ballot must be received by SMECO by August 22, 2016, if it is to be counted at the annual meeting. If you vote on behalf of a business or organization, you must bring its member identification card to the annual meeting. If you don t have its member ID card, you won t be able to vote on behalf of that entity. SMECO will mail annual meeting packets in late July. The packet will include biographical information for each candidate running for a seat on the Board of Directors, as well as proposed bylaw changes. The packet will also include your member identification card, which should be brought to the meeting for voting purposes SMECO Annual Members Meeting Tuesday, August 23, 2016 Registration and voting: 4 7 p.m. Meeting: 7 8 p.m. Requests for Absentee Ballots must be received between July 18 and August 5, Completed Absentee Ballots are due back by August 22, Look for your annual meeting packet in July. 5

6 Teach children to stay safe around power lines Children are out of school and it s time for some summer fun for many. Warm weather brings a lot of opportunities for children to play outside and SMECO wants everyone to stay safe. 6 Electricity always tries to find the easiest path to ground. The best way to stay safe around overhead power lines is to never become that easiest path. Help your children understand these safety tips to keep themselves and their friends safe in trees: Never climb in or play in trees that are growing next to power lines. Never touch a power line with a hand or with any other object, whether the line is in a tree or on the ground. Don t build a tree house, fort, or anything else in a tree that is next to power lines. Children should tell an adult if they see trees growing close to or touching power lines. If children see a power line that has fallen into a tree or onto the ground, they should stay away and tell an adult immediately. Don t climb the fence around an electrical substation. If your child loses a ball or a pet gets inside the fence, they should tell an adult who can contact SMECO. Keep balloons, kites, fishing lines, and aluminum ladders away from overhead power lines. Any of

7 these items may conduct electricity and can bring that electricity through the person holding the object into the ground. Keep electrical appliances away from water. Do not sit on or play around the electrical transformer boxes found in many neighborhoods. Adults should be careful, too! Overhead power lines carry high voltages and maintain only a coating of insulation to protect them from weathering. If your body or anything you are touching comes in contact with the power line, the results could be fatal. Electricity will course through your equipment and you, and that current can heat up and burn the tissue inside the body. If you become the easiest path to ground, the results could be deadly. Some common things to avoid: Using equipment close to a power line. If you are using farm equipment or other machinery, including metal ladders, and any part of it comes in contact with an overhead line, the equipment and you will become the easiest path to ground. Cutting down a tree that is in contact with a line. If a tree is in contact with an overhead power line and you attempt to remove the tree, you can become the easiest path to the ground. August 3 Breakfast with the Animals Sponsor: Historic St. Mary s City 10 to 11 a.m Old Cove Road. The event will be held at the Godiah Spray Tobacco Plantation. Enjoy a light breakfast, a story, and an opportunity to help feed the Plantation livestock. Designed for preschool-age children 3 to 5 and an accompanying adult. $ Admission; one accompanying adult free. Registration is required HSMCdigshistory.org aroundtown August 12 13, Shakespeare in the City: The Tempest Sponsored: Historic St. Mary s City 7:30 to 9:30 p.m State House Road. Get swept up in love, treachery, comedy, and magic. The Tempest is presented in partnership with the Newtowne Players. Ticket prices vary according to age. Military discount available. Reservations recommended HSMCdigshistory.org 7

8 Practice boating safety around lines Summer fun in Southern Maryland typically includes time spent out on the water. Sailing enthusiasts need to be aware of power lines to maintain safe boating fun. Check out these safety tips to ensure safer sailing this summer. Many sailboats have masts of 30 feet or more. Most of these masts are made of aluminum, which conducts electricity. When rigging or aluminum masts come into contact with electric power lines, a lethal hazard is created. Before you sail, be sure to step the mast in an area clear of power lines. Ensure that the path you take to the launching ramp will not allow your mast to come into contact with overhead lines. The National Electrical Safety Code requires that power lines maintain a certain clearance over water or posted launching areas suitable for sailboats. This doesn t guarantee that your mast will not come into contact with the lines. Take the responsibility yourself to see that your mast and rigging stay at least 10 feet away from all power lines. Once you are on the water, continue to keep an eye out for overhead lines because power lines do cross over waterways. Make sure that your boat has proper clearance from any overhead lines. Your mast must never make contact with power lines. When you are removing your boat from the water, be sure to inspect the area for possible power lines that may come into contact with the mast as you step it and store it for travel. Practice safe sailing and enjoy!

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