If you are a Minnesota Energy Resources Interruptible customer, we encourage you to review these frequently asked questions:

If your question is not answered here, or if you'd like more information, please contact us at 866-727-8116.

What is Telemetry?
Telemetry is a device connected to an interruptible customer's natural gas meter. The device allows gas flow to be electronically measured daily or more frequently. It then logs the daily gas use which will be uploaded to Minnesota Energy Resources via a dedicated, customer-installed phone line. The daily use data will be available to the customer via the Internet. The timeliness of this measurement and detailed information will help the customer better manage their natural gas usage and associated energy costs.

The equipment that will be installed will depend on your meter configuration. The typical installation will consist of (1) a Temperature Compensating Index (TCI) head; this is an electronic meter head that will replace the old mechanical dials on the front of the meter, (2) an Industrial Metering Unit (IMU); this is an approximately 9" x 9" x 6" deep box that contains electronic components used to send the electronic meter reading information from the TCI back to the Automated Meter Reading (AMR) software to record the gas usage data. A Telephone Termination Box, approximately 3" x 4" x 2" deep, will be installed within 5 feet of the meter and where the Customer telephone line will connect and interface to the meter equipment.

This new metering arrangement was approved by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in the Minnesota Energy Resources rate order, issued in December 2009. Minnesota Energy Resources requested that all interruptible customers have telemetry equipment installed on their natural gas meter. This equipment will help reduce the cost associated with manual meter reading and special readings required when curtailments are called. It will also provide better gas usage data that will be used to forecast gas usage and control curtailments.

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What are my responsibilities as a Minnesota Energy Resources Interruptible customer?
All Minnesota Energy Resources Interruptible Customers are required to participate in the Telemetry program as part of the Minnesota Energy Resources Small Volume Interruptible Tariff. Customers will be required to install and maintain an analog phone line that is dedicated to the telemetry equipment. After the phone line is installed and operating, the Customer will need to provide the phone number for the telemetry equipment by faxing the Interruptible Telemetry Customer Project Contact Form to 866-578-8558. The customer must also allow access to Minnesota Energy Resources or its contractor to install and maintain the telemetry equipment. Once the equipment is installed the customer will be billed for the cost of the telemetry equipment as stated in the tariff.

Interruptible Telemetry Customer responsibilities are as follows:

  • Provide a dedicated analog telephone line to the Telephone Termination Box (this will be mounted by the contractor at the first customer visit).
  • Within (3) weeks of the first contractor visit install the analog phone line from to the Telephone Termination Box.
  • Fill out and return the Telemetry Customer Project Contact Form; the form was also attached to the letter sent on 02/28/2011. Correct any information and provide all missing information; specifically the telephone number for the telemetry equipment and your login ID so that meter volumes can be linked to your account.
  • Contractor will return to your site approximately 3 weeks after the first visit to install and commission the telemetry equipment. Once the telemetry equipment is commissioned and your Telemetry Project Customer Contact Form is returned and your login ID is linked to your account, you will be able to start viewing your daily usage data on meter volumes.
  • Your account will be moved to the end of the month billing cycle and you will be billed for the equipment.

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What are the benefits of telemetry?
The benefits of telemetry include:
  • Improved access to natural gas usage data.
  • Increases ability to manage your natural gas use by monitoring daily usage and trends.
  • Allows Minnesota Energy Resources to monitor natural gas use and purchase gas supplies more efficiently, and provide improved forecast usage to help reduce the need for system curtailments.
  • Allows Minnesota Energy Resources to monitor natural gas usage and better forecast usage to reduce the need for curtailments.
  • Reduces labor cost associated with monthly meter reading and special manual readings that are required during curtailment periods.
  • Telemetry is becoming the industry standard and the cost of installation is paid by customers because they receive the benefit of the lower interruptible rates.
  • These changes will continue to help keep rates low and avoid unnecessary curtailments.

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What will this project cost me?
The cost will depend upon the equipment Minnesota Energy Resources needs to install to make your meter work with telemetry. We expect the cost to be approximately $1,500-$2,000 but this may vary based on each customer's equipment needs. This is a bit higher that originally estimated because of the bidding process. In all, the customer is responsible for the cost of the telemetry equipment and installation & maintenance of the analog phone line.

Minnesota Energy Resources will provide customers with options for financing by offering a 90 day interest-free payment plan or a 12-month payment plan with an interest rate of 0.3% APR.

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Will this work disrupt my business?
No, this work will not disrupt your business operations as only the mechanical meter head will be changed and the telemetry equipment installed. No isolation of the gas service will be required for this work.

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Can I use a shared phone line with another gas meter, Fax, or other equipment?
No. The telemetry device being installed has the ability to send and receive system phone calls. Since it is not known when a phone call may be received a shared phone line creates a scenario where multiple devices that are connected to a single line are not capable of receiving incoming calls, i.e. fax, will intercept the call intended for the telemetry device. This creates a system error, a temporary loss of required system data, and could lead to unnecessary customer costs and the avoidable dispatch of a field technician to the customer's site. The customer may also experience missed calls to the other connected equipment.

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When will this equipment be installed?
Installation crews will contact customers starting in February 2011. The initial contact and meeting with the Customer will be to determine the location and installation of the Telephone Termination Box. The telemetry equipment will be installed approximately 3 weeks after the first site visit by the contractor and the installation of the telephone termination box. (The goal is to have the equipment installed and activated approximately 3 weeks after the first site visit. However, the scheduling is dependent on many factors, including but not all inclusive of weather, timing of multiple installations in the general geographic location, etc.) Once the telephone line is installed the contractor will come back for the second site visit to install and commission the telemetry equipment. The phone line must be active to commission the telemetry equipment or a third site visit may be required if the phone line is not installed or activated. If a third site visit is required and deemed the result of not having the phone line installed the Customer will be charged for this visit. The timing of the installation in your area will vary between the months of 2/2011 - 6/2011. Since there are customers across the state of Minnesota the installation crews will install equipment by geographic areas of the state. You will be notified prior to the first contractor visit.

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Why did I receive more than one letter regarding this project?
If you receive more than one letter it is because you have multiple meters at that location and each meter will need to have telemetry equipment added.

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Does that mean my installation costs will be doubled or tripled?
Yes, you will be required to pay for each meter installation based on the equipment installed.

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Will there be a need for a power connection?
No, if an analog phone line is run to the meter location there will be no need to run any power. The telemetry equipment uses a self-contained battery for power.

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If the telemetry equipment is battery fed, who maintains the batteries?
Minnesota Energy Resources will provide annual maintenance and will check and replace the batter as needed with no additional cost to the customer.

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Will the customer have access to the telemetry data? If so what steps will they need to take to access the data?
Yes, the customer will have access to their daily gas usage data via a program called Meter Volumes. This is an internet based program that can be accessed through the Minnesota Energy Resources web page. The customer will need to register a profile and login credential to gain secure access to their individual gas usage. Once your login credential is created and returned to the Company you will receive an email with directions on how to access the Meter Volumes site.

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Where do I run the phone line and when does it need to be in?
The phone line needs to be run to within (5) feet of the meter location. At the first contractor visit, the contractor will discuss appropriate locations with the customer and mount a telephone termination box. The customer then has 3 weeks to install the phone line to the telephone termination box.

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Can I use a digital or internet phone line? Analog vs. digital telephone connection
The telephone connection needs to be an analog phone connection better known as Plain Old Telephone System (POTS). If an analog connection is not available a digital line may be used but it will be the customer's responsibility to provide a digital to analog converter that meets the requirements of your digital service and the telemetry equipment. Digital to analog converters require 120V AC power supply so the converter will need to be mounted within the customers' facility (phone room or where the phone system ties into the digital system) that has 120V power. See the Analog Phone Specification Sheet for the telemetry analog phone requirements so you can work with your digital phone provider to get the correct converter installed. The cost of this equipment ranges form $100 - $500 depending on the digital system.

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Can I use a cell phone line?
Cellular phone service is not offered as an option because the geographical area of Minnesota Energy Resources covers many areas across the state of Minnesota with many cellular providers and many remote locations with unreliable cellular service. The telemetry equipment requires a special modem set up to the cellular provider network and 120V electrical power is required at the gas meter to power the cellular modem. This additional cost, for the cellular telemetry equipment, electrical power, and reliability issues are the reasons this is not a viable option.

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How will this equipment be billed?
The company will bill a onetime charge after the equipment is installed on the customer's next monthly bill. The company is also offering a 90-day interest-free loan to all interruptible customers. Customers will be billed in (3) monthly installments starting with the next monthly bill after the telemetry equipment is installed. A third option is for the customer to request a 12-month low interest loan at an interest of 0.30% APR. Contact your account representative for more information. This option will require the customer to sign an agreement with the company for the low-interest loan.

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Is the number that the telemetry equipment dials a long distance phone call?
No, the number is a toll free number that connects to the Automated Meter Reading software.

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