1. A method of initializing a meter reading device that measures consumption of a metered commodity and that communicates a current meter value of a meter associated with the metered commodity to a central metering facility, the method comprising:capturing meter information from the meter taken by a hand-held initialization apparatus;
receiving, at the meter reading device based on the meter information taken by the hand-held initialization apparatus, an initial meter value of the meter;
upon initial installation of the meter reading device, upon association of a new customer with the meter, or upon replacement of the meter reading device, initializing the meter reading device using the initial meter value obtained by the hand-held initialization apparatus;
determining, by the meter reading device at a subsequent time after initializing the meter reading device, at least one of a) the current meter value and b) a measured consumption based on the initial meter value and the current meter value; and
communicating the current meter value or the measured consumption to the central metering facility.