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Technological advances in our energy grid and home meters now allow Americans to waste less energy overall, and more tightly control the energy they use at home and work. Smart grid is the application of information technology, tools and techniques that can make the grid run more efficiently. The current electric grid is highly inefficient and is being modernized to make energy go further.

Smart meters are digital meters that replace the old analog meters used in homes to record electrical usage. Digital meters can tell you when, where and how you're using the most energy, and what it's costing you.

Together, smart grid and smart meters can help solve America's energy concerns through more efficient use of the resources we already have. Read on to learn more.

Key Facts

  • As of May 2012, 36 million smart meters have been installed across the country
  • Decreases brownouts, blackouts, and surges by smoothing the flow of power
  • Eliminates the practice of estimated bills, which means no more surprises on your electric bill
  • Promises to increase the efficiency of today’s system by around 9% by 2030, saving more than 400 billion kilowatt-hours each year

Q&A

Do smart meters pose a health risk? What credible research has been conducted on radio frequency and smart meters?

No. Wireless smart meters emit radio frequency transmissions comparable to those emitted by wireless home telephones or Wi-Fi. Wireless technology is prevalent in our everyday lives. Everything from cell phones and wireless Internet routers to baby monitors and garage door openers use radio frequency to operate. Concerns about radio frequency and electromagnetic fields (EMF) are not supported by scientific evidence, but SECC, like the World Health Organization, invests in topical research and follows the latest studies on electromagnetic frequency. Safety is always a priority.

Recent studies conducted by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Edison Electric Institute (EEI), Association of Edison Illuminating Companies (AEIC) and the Utilities Telecom Association (UTC) conclude that digital smart meters pose no health threats.

For more information, read the full report – "A Discussion of Smart Meters and RF Exposure Issues" or visit the following  organizations' websites: www.epri.com ,      
www.eei.org and www.utc.org.

What are the benefits of the smart grid?

The smart grid empowers customers by creating the foundation necessary for a number of new technology-driven energy alternatives, emission reductions, efficiency improvements, a shift to a lower emitting fuel for transpor­tation, and encourages more energy efficiency by providing real-time energy usage data to customers. Research shows that when customers know how much energy they’re using, they will reduce their use by 5 to 10 percent. Additionally, the smart grid promotes integration of the vast amount of renewable energy that is currently being mandated and that is already in the pipeline for development.

  • A smart grid senses problems and reroutes power automatically.  This prevents some outages and reduces the length of those that do occur.
  • A smart grid helps meet growing demand for electricity while limiting the need to invest in new power plants.
  • A smart grid delivers the power “quality” necessary to run our increasingly digital homes – power with fewer sags, spikes, and interruptions.
  • Smart grid reduces greenhouse gas emissions by making it easier to connect renewable energy sources to the electricity grid.
  • Smart grid and smart meters help consumers save money by providing near real time energy usage information and the ability to manage electricity use.
  • Smart grid and smart meters make it easier for utilities to offer new kinds of rate plans to help customers manage energy usage and cost -- for example, by shifting some types of usage to times of day when electricity costs less. 
  • Smart meters eliminate the need for meter reading – instead, usage information is transmitted directly to the utility for timely, accurate billing.  There is never a need to send an estimated bill to the customer.
How can the smart grid save me money?

The idea of the smart grid and the ability to communicate real time electrical market data to consumers will allow people to choose when to use electricity based on the smart grid rates. There is a lot involved in the electrical market and power pricing. Basically electricity is more expensive during higher demand times, usually mid week, mid day to evening. During the times if high demand electricity rates go up exponentially. This is due in part to the lack of generation capability and availability.

With the smart grid the communication of real time electricity rates to the consumer will be possible. This will allow people to choose not to use as much power during peak times to avoid high costs; this will overall reduce the demand. Smart grid compatible appliances or grid friendly appliances will be able to turn off and on automatically based on the cost of electricity at any given moment in time.

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