More On Smart Meters

The smart meter is an essential component to modernizing our energy delivery grid. Its two-way communication ability enables customers and BGE to better understand usage patterns and allows customers to better manage energy use and control costs.

Before we installed the first smart meters earlier this month, we communicated to our customers about this new technology. We sent more than a million letters, brought smart meter information to a variety of community events and participated in several media interviews. We are also sending postcards and placing advertisements in areas that are the first to receive this technology.

Since announcing the installation of smart meters, we’ve understandably received questions from customers and have participated in online conversations regarding how the meters will function; what they will measure; how they will help customers better manage their bills; how we will protect data security and concerns regarding radio frequency exposure. While we address these questions on our Common Questions page, we wanted to take another opportunity to provide more information to these frequently asked questions:

What the smart meter will and won’t measure?
Smart meters will measure the same thing your current meter measures – the total energy usage of your household. The meter will not tell us what devices you are using, what kinds of appliances/equipment you have, or whether or not the house is occupied at a particular point in time. The difference between the smart meter and your current meter is that the smart meter will communicate your usage data through two-way wireless communication. This capability will allow us to provide you with hourly usage data soon after the information is obtained by the meter.

How will smart meters help customers better manage their bills?
Right now, BGE gets information about your energy usage on a monthly basis. Customers must wait until they get their bills in order to know how much energy they used in a certain period, and the related charges. We believe that if customers have more detailed information about their energy usage patterns, such as periods when their usage may spike, they can make better decisions on how they manage their energy use and lower their bills in the short and long-term. When the first smart meter-related feature is rolled out in Fall 2012, customers will be able to regularly access information about their energy use through an online tool. Before you even receive your bill, you will have an idea of how your bill is tracking and what changes you can take to lower your overall usage.

What is BGE doing to ensure my data is secure?
We recognize that data security is of extreme importance. This is why we have hired trained security professionals who continually test our system by trying to “hack” into it. Any potential areas of concern are immediately addressed. Also, regarding the privacy and confidentiality of your data, the usage information relayed to BGE is encrypted. BGE does not currently sell your usage information to third parties and has no plans to start doing so.

How much radio frequency waves do the smart meters emit?
The California Council on Science and Technology recently released a study that concluded that properly working smart meters emit less RF than a typical microwave oven or cell phone. Already, in many homes and offices there are devices that use radio waves to transmit data including cordless phones, automatic garage door openers, video game remotes and baby monitors, to name a few.

As we enhance our delivery infrastructure with smarter technologies, we will continue to work with customers, elected leaders and others to provide information on this topic.

Will post again soon.

Michael