Question #2

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Q&A

What are smart meters?

Smart meters, a common form of smart grid technology, are digital meters that replace the old analog meters used in homes to record electrical usage. Digital meters can transmit energy consumption information back to the utility on a much more frequent schedule than analog meters, which require a meter reader to transmit information.

Electric energy use will be recorded every hour at your home and every 15 minutes at your business. Natural gas information will be available on a daily basis. Smart meters will enable you to monitor your consumption more precisely so you can make more informed energy choices.

What makes a smart grid different than today’s grid?

Our electric system is more than 100 years old and although it has served us well, it needs upgrading. The energy industry is poised for a dramatic change. In the face of expanding customer expectations, increasing environmental regulation, and new technology, the traditional approach of building new power plants to meet energy demand can no longer be the only option. We must find ways to improve our service and meet our customers’ energy needs in a smart, lower-carbon way. Renewable generation and energy efficiency must, and will, play a larger role.

And consumers want more information and control, too; they want reliable and affordable energy that’s clean, and this requires a unique balancing act. By deploying digital energy technologies and modernizing our power grid, we can bring the grid into the 21st century, empower consumers to make wiser energy decisions, and help create a cleaner, lower-carbon and more energy-efficient world.

Will a smart meter give my utility control over how and when I use energy?

No. Actually, you control your usage, not the utility. Advanced metering gives you more control. Participating in residential energy management and other energy efficiency programs is completely optional. Customers who participate can use the information they receive to manage their energy usage day by day. Or, they can set preferences (select a maximum temperature for air conditioning, for instance) and let the system automatically make adjustments based on the cost or availability of energy. Either way, the customer is in complete control and will have the option to override signals or not participate in energy-efficiency programs at all.

The smart meter takes frequent readings of your energy usage, but it only measures the electricity used in your household, it does not control it. If you have opted in to a program such as a PeakRewards program, your smart meter will not change how this program operates. The utility will continue to cycle air conditioner compressors and hot water heaters on and off as needed during peak usage times, the same as when you first signed on to this program. In the future, the smart meters will enable utilities to remotely turn service on and off at customer premises. This feature will be used when customers move out of their current homes and start service elsewhere. This cost effective feature eliminates the need for a utility field visit when customers move or start service. The remote connect feature will also enable the utility to place customers back into service more expeditiously.​

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