smart meters

dan1554December 21, 2011

I just had my older style meter converted to one of the new "smart meters" offered by me electric company. I live in southwestern PA, and have West Penn Power as my provider. They claim it will save me money by monitoring my usage at various times.... this sounds like somehow, some way, it will end up costing me money. Does anyone have any thoughts / opinions / knowledge of the smart meters, and the end results?

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bus_driver

Monitoring means "gathering information". We know that the power company will get that information. How much of it will they share with you and when and how?

    Bookmark   December 22, 2011 at 6:43AM
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Ron Natalie

Well it's not the meter that's the key point but what their billing policy is.
If they are going to charge you less during off peak you get some benefit.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2011 at 8:27AM
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texasredhead

We have had a smart meter through Texas Utilities along with a very low fixed rate for a couple of years. Big house in a hot climate with about $200 per month in hottest months. I can go on line any time and check our power usage.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2011 at 9:14AM
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brickeyee

The smart meters are designed to make 'demand billing' possible.

You will be charged more at peak times, less at off peak.

Some commercial services have had things like this for years, though often not as sophisticate as the new smart meters can allow.
Sometime the rate for ALL the power used in the billing period was based on the peak usage during the billing period.

Of course it will be rolled out as a 'lower rates during off peak hours' program to obscure the higher rates during peak periods.

Since a very large part of this is controlled by state regulators, you will need to watch what the state allows to be altered in the billing rules.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2011 at 9:40AM
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dan1554

Thanks for the replies everyone. At this point, the POCO says it can only lower my bills, because if I reduce usage during peak hours I will save 50 cents per kilowatt, they say. Sounds too good to be true. I don't know what they are basing it on, since I already do as much as possible on off peak hours. At this time, they are not going to have tiered billing / peak hours billing rates.... but of course I realize the potential for that is there, and a few years from now, who knows what we will see. They will be replacing everyone's meter with this new type so it was inevitable, I just hate being one of the first.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2011 at 11:47PM
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bus_driver

"I will save 50 cents per kilowatt, they say. Sounds too good to be true."

Doesn't sound true to me.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2011 at 8:26AM
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brickeyee

"Sounds too good to be true."

Increases during peak usage will eventually follow.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2011 at 11:34AM
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dan1554

The kicker is they do not have anything in writing yet because they are only starting to roll this out next summer so its easy to promise the world now. I typically use between 900 and 1500 kwh per month and my bill averages between 80 and 140..... so if I believe their claim of 50 cents per kwh for peak reduction and I dropped my peak usage by 300 kwh then they would owe me money? I don't think that will happen. Just another way big brother is watching us.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2011 at 9:12PM
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bus_driver

Watching us?

Here is a link that might be useful: Ray

    Bookmark   December 23, 2011 at 9:43PM
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weedmeister

Smart meters have nothing to do with saving the customers any money. It allows the implementation of 'time-of-day' pricing, which is an effort to raise your bill, not lower it.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2011 at 5:28PM
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dkenny

depends.

what type of smart meter are they talking about..

demand use?? We've had one from 1993..love it..if you watch the ON peak demand(KW..yes KW not KWh)..you can drop your bill by close to $100/month..no joke..its Dec in NC and last month bill was around $115. for a 4500sq/ft house. all electric. we run around 160-180 in the summer.

IP/wiFi readable..I think just makes it easy for them to read you meter and you won't gain much..ie little savings

so what kind are they talking about?
-dkenny

    Bookmark   December 30, 2011 at 5:37PM
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mike_kaiser_gw

I'm naturally suspicious of any company that holds a monopoly (or near monopoly) and promises customers a savings through some new fangled device that doesn't cost the customer anything either. Why would they do that?

I can understand the devices that shut off high draw appliances during peak demand periods in exchange for a lower rate.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2011 at 10:36PM
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texasredhead

IMO, the smart meters allow the various providers to read usage remotely thereby eliminating the need for meter readers. It's largely a personnel issue.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2012 at 10:10AM
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brickeyee

"the smart meters allow the various providers to read usage remotely thereby eliminating the need for meter readers. It's largely a personnel issue."

Remote reading of meters did not requires the level of "smart meter" technology that is now being implemented.

Many water authorizes changed over to electronic meter reading a while ago, but they still use plain old mechanical metering to measure the volume of water used.

The "smart meter" craze is going to be another method to increase costs depending on time of usage.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2012 at 10:35AM
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weedmeister

Brick is right. I've had a radio unit on my meter for years and there is nothing smart about it. It allows the utility to do drive-by readings.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 3:36PM
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dkenny

that's one type of smart metering..
a radio to read the meter is one way.
what about using wifi..each meter has an IP address..or is a server that someone drive nearby and reads it?
demand metering is a different type that could add all features above. mine doesn't have the radio or the wifi.. the use a IR handheld device to read it.

-dkenny

    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 8:22PM
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bus_driver

Locally, one of the area power companies (there are two but rarely does the customer get to choose which. I have accounts with both and have an ownership interest in both) has had the ability since 2006 to do drive-by readings from short distances, apparently less than 1/4 miles, perhaps even less. They both use contractors to read the meters and to do limited service chores. Recently one of the contract employees with Scope Meter Services decided that a meter was dead when in fact, the premises was empty and the main was off. This clown threw the removed meter into the woods, installed another one and the POCO billed for three months estimated usage based on the previous year usage. The POCO claimed that they can monitor the meter from their central location which I knew to be untrue. They claimed that is how they knew the exact usage. So I asked them why they did not use the magical meter reading ability to read the new meter so that they would know that it also shows no power has been used. The bill was then corrected without comment or explanation. Technology can do wonders, but it is limited by the ability of those who are in charge of it. My investigation shows that the contract employees are not well paid. It shows in the ability of those they have working.
I found and now have the removed meter stored in a secure location.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 11:32AM
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weedmeister

The other radio protocol being looked at is ZigBee. It uses the same frequency band as WiFi but is much narrower. It is also much lower power. The protocol allows the meters to set up a 'network' amongst themselves and pass their data to an 'aggregator' which usually sits on a pole. It can be read by drive-by or be net connected (cellular).

    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 3:02PM
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