Question #3

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Q&A

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.

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.

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