Blog - More on Smart Meters

Michael Butts, Director - Smart Grid
 
MikeButts.jpgThe 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 theIMG_5135.jpg 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:
 
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.    
 
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. 
 
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.
 
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
 

Comments

May 17, 2012BGE Customer 1 says:
We already have "wireless" Gas meter inside that was recently upgraded. Does it mean someone will come and start changing it again?
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We are upgrading all gas meters, even newer meters, by adding an additional component that will enable the meter to communicate with BGE. You likely do not have this component on your current meter. We will only change gas meters in a few cases where there are older meters.
May 24, 2012Michael C Davie says:
I recall seeing an earlier version of a radio-monitored "smart meter" on some homes in Anne Arundel County between 200 and 2010. There were white "boxes" mounted on the under side of metal street light pole "arms" with a black antenna about a foot ling extending downward from the under side of the box, and a friend who worked for Kansas City Power and Light told me they were used to collect data from the smart meters in the neighborhood. Why doesn't BGE mention those previous meters today?

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Michael,
I believe you are describing the network devices that we installed on poles throughout our system prior to beginning smart meter installation. These devices are not actual meters, but they are part of the metering system that will support the two-way communication between BGE and the smart meters.
May 25, 2012Bill Ison says:
Does smart meter have a remote operated disconnect?
Can you opt out?
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Smart meters allow for both remote connection and disconnection. At this time, there is not an opt out plan available. Customers, can however request to have their meter installment deferred until the Maryland Public Service Commission decides on this issue. To request deferment, follow the steps described on our Common Questions page – http://www.bge.com/learnshare/smartgrid/commonquestions/pages/can-i-opt-out,-or-choose-not-to-have-a-meter-installed.aspx

Please contact BGE at the address below. You should provide your name(s), address, account number, phone number and email address:

Smart Meter Deferral
BGE
P.O. Box 1475
Baltimore, MD 21203
May 27, 2012Vincent Erimeta says:
I been to one of your community forums and I must say, I was pleased with your staff's ability and interest in answering my questions. I had mixed feelings after listening to a few people against your smart meters, but I rather hear from you guys.
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Thanks for attending Vincent. We know our customers have questions regarding this new technology and we’re committed to keeping customers informed.
May 30, 2012Steve says:
How do we opt out?

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At this time, there is not an opt out plan available. Customers, can however request to have their meter installment deferred until the Maryland Public Service Commission decides on this issue. To request deferment, follow the steps described on our Common Questions page – http://www.bge.com/learnshare/smartgrid/commonquestions/pages/can-i-opt-out,-or-choose-not-to-have-a-meter-installed.aspx


Please contact BGE at the address below. You should provide your name(s), address, account number, phone number and email address:

Smart Meter Deferral
BGE
P.O. Box 1475
Baltimore, MD 21203


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