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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

What happens to the old meters?

The old meters are recycled.  Any newer, electronic meters utilities replace (such as solid state meters and OMR – offsite meter read – meters) are refurbished, tested and recycled back into the meter population until smart meters are installed in the area in which they are recycled. The older, electromechanical (dial) meters that are replaced are dismantled and all their components – such as aluminum, copper, glass et cetera – recycled.

How is my personal usage information kept private and secure?

Answered by various utilities, security is a top priority for utilities:

AEP Ohio: The privacy, protection and disclosure of personal information are important to AEP Ohio. Cyber security is essential to the success of any smart grid project. AEP Ohio intends to advance the cyber security of the smart grid by establishing a dedicated cyber security operations center in Columbus. Cyber security is a familiar concept to the utility industry. They have extensive experience maintaining security on the information systems needed to operate the electrical grid. Installing advanced meters adds a new component to their system, but the meters, communications and information management will be subject to the same Department of Energy security standards that keep the grid secure.

SDG&E: The Information Technology (IT) security controls SDG&E have in place for smart meters reflect energy industry best practices. They are designed to provide a very high level of assurance that our systems cannot be compromised. SDG&E considers security a top priority. SDG&E takes all reasonable and necessary steps to ensure the services they provide their customers are not only high quality and easily available, but also extremely secure. In addition, they constantly monitor for evolving threats and attempts to breach security and progressively update their system protection as needed.  They also regularly review, test and practice incident response processes.

SCE: Security protocols for Edison SmartConnect are adapted from the banking and defense sectors in order to ensure the highest levels of security and privacy. All information transmitted between meters and the utility is encrypted using U.S. government-approved and recommended standards, and we work with federal and state agencies to stay ahead of cyber threats.

Are smart meters accurate?

Utilities are confident in the performance of their vendors and the equipment they are deploying as part of their grid modernization efforts. The meter make / model utilities selected undergo a variety of rigorous tests before they are approved for use in the field. The standardized tests are used to measure accuracy during various load and weather conditions; the tests are industry accepted and approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

Additionally, utilities have implemented an enhanced testing procedure where they test a percentage of all meters they receive from the vendor prior to installing them at a customer’s home or business. Utilities also continue to monitor meter accuracy after installation by conducting routine sample and/or periodic testing.

Certainly, utilities understand that with any vendor or equipment, problems can occur after installation, so customers are encouraged to contact their utility if there are ever any questions about the accuracy of the meter or the bill.

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