Smart Meters: What will they do for me?
As utilities look for new ways to improve operating efficiency and service reliability, new technologies are playing an increasing role in the way we operate. There has been much talk about a “Smart Grid” that will deliver electricity using digital technology to save energy, reduce costs and increase reliability. The first step in migrating to this “Smarter Grid” is the conversion to Smart Meters. But just hat is a Smart Meter, what can it do, and what are the benefits to me, the consumer?
The Smart Meters that Griffin Power is deploying utilize a cellular technology, the same as used by your cell phone, to call your consumption information into the office. The meter records your electric usage in 15-minute periods throughout the day and calls the information in daily between midnight and 2:00 am. Once our system is fully deployed, there will be no need for a meter reader to access your property to read the meter each month. And because the meter reading is transmitted directly from the meter, the possibility of an inaccurate meter reading caused by human error will be eliminated.
Meter reading accuracy and efficiency are only a few of the benefits that Smart Meters will provide. Each meter is equipped with load profile information and power quality diagnostics that can help analyze possible electrical problems inside the residence. Access to hourly, daily and monthly energy usage will help you evaluate your energy use and control your utility costs.
Another major benefit of our smart meter technology is the ability of the meter to notify us if there is a loss of power. During an outage situation, the meter will send a notification telling us that power has been lost. As we restore power, we are able to “ping” the meter to verify that power has been restored.
In the future, smart meters may provide options for controlling how and when your home utilizes energy by interfacing with programmable appliances, like thermostats and dishwashers, and enable you to control these devices through your smart phone or computer.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a “Smart Meter”
Why is Griffin deploying smart meter technology?
- A smart meter is a meter that records electric usage and transmits its information using cellular technology back to a host computer system, without the need for a person to physically visit the meter to obtain the reading. The meter also has the capability of providing usage readings in 15 minute periods (called load profile readings), power quality diagnostics, outage notification and two-way communications with compatible electronic devices.
Do I have to receive a smart meter, or can I opt to remain with my older meter?
- Smart meters will lower operating costs, improve efficiency, provide outage detection and notification, and enable us to provide a wealth of data to our customers concerning their energy usage.
Do smart meters generate radio frequency (RF) fields?
- Customers cannot opt out of receiving a smart meter. Once our deployment is complete, the older meter technology will no longer be supported.
Will smart meter RF fields interfere with my electronics or medical devices?
- All wireless devices generate some, RF fields, but the ones generated by our meters are extremely low, and last for only a few seconds per day. Your cell phone, lap top computer and microwave oven produce RF fields far in excess of that produced by our meter, and as the meter is installed outside your home, the RF field does not come inside the premises.
Will my bill increase because the old meter was replaced with a smart meter?
- Griffin’s smart meters are certified by the FCC and shouldn’t interfere with any devices in or around your home or business.
How will Griffin read my smart meter?
- Depending on the age and type of meter that was on your home or business, you may see a slight increase in your electric usage due to the accuracy of the new smart meter. Many of our previous meters were electro-mechanical meters with gears used to record electric usage. These meters would slow down with age and under record electric usage. Our new meters were factory tested and shipped with +/- 0. 1% accuracy guaranteed.
Can anyone access my utility account or personal information through my smart meter?
- Traditionally, a meter reader would have to come to your residence or business each month and manually enter the meter’s reading into a handheld unit, which would later be downloaded to the City’s billing system. This manual method provided an opportunity for incorrect readings to be entered accidentally. With our smart meter technology, meter readings are automatically transmitted back to the collector using a secure, highly encrypted cellular communications network provided by AT&T.
Will I still be able to read my electric meter?
- No. There is no utility account or personal information stored in the smart meter.
Will the City of Griffin be able to control my electricity usage?
- Yes. The meter will cycle between four displays. Clockwise from top left to right are:
- Diagnostic Display: all “8”s, showing the display is functioning properly
- Display 01: kilowatthour (kWh) reading
- Open/Closed: Status of the meter for meters with remote disconnect capability
Can Griffin Power turn my meter on and off remotely?
- No, not without your permission. In the future, Griffin Power will be able to offer special programs, like a load management program, and will offer financial incentives for customers to participate. In return for financial consideration, during periods of extremely high electric usage, a load management device attached to you air conditioner or water heater would allow us to cycle the equipment off for a brief period, but you would need to sign up to participate in the program.
- In some cases we can. Due to the high concentration of rental property in Griffin and Spalding County, we have placed remote disconnect meters at all apartment complexes and other known rental properties. This enables us to connect and disconnect service and obtain meter readings as tenants come and go without having to send a service worker to the site to perform these functions.
Water Meters Going Smart Too
Smart meters are not just for electric. Water meters are also being upgraded to reap the benefits of smart technology as well. The new meters will provide the following benefits:
- Provides daily readings without the need to send a person to read the meter. Meter readings are transmitted via a wireless network back to the collector.
- Provides continuous use information to help identify water leaks before they become a major problem for our customers.