I was asked by someone the other day "how does an electricity meter work?"i.e. "how can I stop my electricity meter from working?, (or run backwards)".
Oh, that is easy enough to do.
And, perfectly legal too.
Just attach a bunch of solar panels, and a "grid attached inverter". There are specific code requirements that you will have to pay attention to. Some people target running the meter backwards in the summer, and forwards in the summer... to equal a net of zero.
There is a law in the USA requiring power companies to buy power from small power generators. Unfortunately, it doesn't specify how much they must pay.
I thought the wheel thingy looked like an electric motor.
One can, of course, also run the system digitally by calculating the Volts, Amps, and time. A bypass resistor is often used in circuits, so the majority of the current bypasses the sensitive electronics. Or, I suppose, amps can be measured by inductance.
I actually have two meters. The interesting one is on the house. The main incoming power comes through some kind of bypass resistor or inductor. And, only little wires go up to the meter. Disconnecting the meter, and I still get power.
Unfortunately the power company uses these funky seals... And, eventually they will put in a meter that will not only say how much power is being used, but also when it is being used, so then they might look for suspicious usage patterns.