Question #1

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Q&A

Do smart meters help the environment?

Yes, a smart grid is a greener grid. Smart meters and intelligent grid can significantly benefit the environment by reducing consumption of fossil fuel resources, thereby reducing emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) and other air pollutants. Environmental benefits can be achieved in three ways:

  1. Reducing electricity consumption and increasing transmission and distribution efficiency
    Studies suggest that given the ability to monitor their energy use more frequently in greater detail, many consumers may begin turning off unneeded appliances, change to more efficient lighting, adjust thermostats and make other energy-saving changes.  If consumers conserve energy, less power may need to be produced. Reduced emissions from potentially decreased power generation could translate into better air quality.
  2. Reducing utility’s vehicular needs
    Smart meters will also reduce the consumption of resources and associated emission of greenhouse gases and other pollutants associated with performing basic utility services such as connections, disconnections, and meter readings, which can be conducted remotely for consumers with smart meters without sending out a truck. As of October 2010 for example, CenterPoint Energy has avoided over 300,000 "truck rolls" by completing service orders electronically.
  3. Promoting distributed and renewable energy production and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles
    Finally, smart grid will create a platform that will promote the development and deployment of technologies for increasing distributed generation (DG) and energy storage capacity, such as wind and solar generation, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). Smart meters measure surplus electricity generated as well as electricity delivered, eliminating the need for installation of expensive specialized DG metering. Distributed generation can help reduce the need for new fossil-fuel-generated capacity and therefore benefit the environment. The smart grid will also include technologies that facilitate the use of PHEVs, thereby reducing the consumer’s reliance on gasoline and diesel-fueled vehicles.
What details do smart meters collect?

Details will vary based on the technology but an example is that you will be able to see online usage reports as recent as the previous day. Residential customers will see usage in hourly increments; business customers will see usage in 15-minute increments.

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.

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