Currently the only cost effective approach to remote utility meter reading appears to lie in a diode laser system called Infra-Red Meter Access (IRMA). The IRMA system combines electro-optical and large scale integrated (LSI) circuit technology to provide a low cost solution to the remote meter reading problem. The IRMA system consists of two diode laser transceiver units which communicate utility consumption data from the meter to a mobile location. The meter monitor unit transponder, which is permanently located in the proximity of the meter, utilizes a light emitting diode (LED) scanner to accumulate the meter reading. When the monitor unit is interrogated, it transmits the meter information to the mobile interrogator transceiver. The mobile transceiver, which is either a handheld unit or located in a moving van, interrogates each monitor unit and receives and processes the meter data. Electrical utility meter information can be bracketed in the monitor unit memory to provide for direct meter reading, peak demand smoothing incentive billing functions, load management signals, and meter tampering detection. A combination of these functions allows the conservation of millions of barrels of oil and an average electric utility bill reduction on the order of 35 to 45 percent.