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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

Will meters readers lose their jobs once smart meters are installed?

Traditional meter readers, who will no longer be required to “make their rounds” to personally read meters, will have the opportunity to be re-trained for other jobs within utilities. Some roles for former meter readers would include network technician assistants, call center representatives and utility assistants (such as tree trimmers).

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.
Are advanced meters a fire hazard?

Smart meters do not cause fires: Smart meters cannot combust or ignite. Overheating is typically caused when there are problems with the meter enclosure. These problems can’t always be detected on a visual inspection and customers should have their meter enclosures checked periodically by a licensed electrical inspector.

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