Duke Energy has for several years been installing digital smart meters and other equipment to modernize the power grid to improve reliability, increase efficiency and to give customers more control over their energy usage and costs. And our customers are benefiting as the technology has helped reduce the number of estimated bills we send each year by more than a third; helped avoid nearly two million outage minutes; and helped our customers save money on their energy bills – up to $100 annually.
The digital technology at the heart of these improvements has been around for years. Everything from computers and cell phones to our TV remote controls has gone digital. Even local restaurants and coffee shops tout “free Wi-Fi” to get customers in their doors. The technology is widely accepted and used by most people every day.
Modernizing today’s electric grid requires digital technology – from the power plants to the meters – in order to meet peoples’ growing expectations, and ever-changing demands on the grid.
Upgrading our analog meters to new digital meters is an important part of our modernizing efforts in Ohio. And we believe maintaining a small number of mechanical meters for a few customers when we’re updating our entire grid system to perform better is unnecessary, for several reasons.
First, managing two separate metering programs would require Duke Energy to maintain duplicative processes and staffs to do the same work, and this would increase costs for everyone. Duke Energy has received very few requests from customers who want to keep using the century-old technology, so we believe it would be unfair to penalize our nearly 700,000 Ohio customers with higher cost for work and equipment that is outdated and unnecessary.
Second, many of the requests we are receiving from customers to remove meters or not allow us to install them in the first place are being prompted by misinformation and propaganda spreading through social media channels. Here are the facts:
• Data Privacy/Security – Duke Energy considers your information confidential and does not share or sell it to other companies. The information coming from our meters is encrypted, and the meters themselves are protected with security passwords and security keys. Even if security was breached, the ONLY information someone would see is whole-house energy usage, which is the same information that’s available today.
• Control – You and you alone have control of your energy usage. The meters do not collect usage data for specific appliances inside your home, and we cannot turn off your appliances to reduce energy. Just like their older electro-mechanical predecessors, today’s digital smart meters gather whole-house usage information. The only difference is that the information is available more frequently than once a month. You can use the information to change how you use energy OR you can choose to do nothing.
• Radio Frequency – Most all of Duke Energy’s residential smart electric meters in Ohio transmit data over the power lines, so there is very low to no radio frequency associated with their operation. Duke Energy’s gas meters and some of the electric meters installed for larger residential and small to medium business customers send information wirelessly, but the radio frequency levels are very low and well within limits established by the Federal Communications Commission.
The energy industry is one of the few, if not only, industries that still relies on century-old technology to meet 21st century consumer expectations. To move forward, we must leverage available technology to lower bills, increase efficiency, reduce power outages, respond quicker to outages, delay the need for new power plants and clean the air – improvements our customers have been telling us for years that they want, and we are now well-positioned to deliver.
For more information, visit www.duke-energy.com/smartgrid
NOTE: Duke Energy is currently installing digital smart meters in its Ohio service area as part of a broader grid modernization program. The company continues to refine modernization plans for its service areas in Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina.