Question #2

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Q&A

How much progress has the smart grid made in the U.S.? How many smart meters have been installed?

A map of smart meter installations by state provided by the Institute for Electric Efficiency illustrates progress. As of May 2012, 36 million smart meters have been installed across the country. By 2015, approximately 65 million smart meters are expected to be installed—that’s more than half of all U.S. households.

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.

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.

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