What is a smart grid?
The Smart Grid is a long-term journey to use technology to modernize the electric power delivery network. As the cost of energy continues to increase, the Smart Grid will help generate efficiency, streamline power delivery and control costs.
What’s the difference between Smart Grid and a Smart meter?
It’s important to remember that smart meters aren’t the same as the Smart Grid. Smart meters enable two-way communication between you and the City of Fulton, regarding your energy use. Customers hold the key to unlock cost savings opportunities through more informed decisions and better choices about their energy usage, and the first step in realizing the Smart Grid’s value.
What is a smart meter?
A smart meter is a digital electric meter equipped with wireless communications technology. Smart meters are a key part of establishing the smart electric grid of the future. Customers will be able to better manage their use of energy, save money and as a result reduce their impact on the environment with advanced meters. Smart electric meters will have the ability to send near real-time updates to home computers or energy management systems. The water and gas meters are also being updated. The water meter and gas meters will send readings once a day and the water meters will send leak detection warnings. The leak detection on water meters will enable the City to give customers early notification of a possible leak on the customers side of the water meter.
Why are we investing in smart meters?
The United States electricity grid hasn’t changed much in the past 100 years. If capacity does not expand to keep up with a projected increase in demand over the next 25 years, we could see our healthy grid become increasingly less reliable. Fulton’s customer needs as well as customers across the nation are growing faster than the current grid can handle. By modernizing our energy delivery system, the City of Fulton can make its vision of a clean energy future a reality and ensure that the grid continues to serve us at the reliable level we expect.
When will Fulton customers receive smart meters?
Smart meters will be installed in the fall 2011and winter of 2012.
What are the benefits for customers?
The benefits are many. Customers will experience shorter power interruptions because of improved outage management, fewer estimated bills and improved service and reliability. In the future, customers will have new opportunities to participate in pricing programs and leverage advantages with the use of smart appliances, in home energy management devices and equipment that provide useful energy usage information.
The benefits of the Smart Metering Program will continue to grow over time. Enhanced customer service and greater convenience are just a start. In the future, you can expect:
Smart Metering will improve Services
- Improved customer service
- Access to your up-to date customer information
- More efficient field services with less personnel and trucks in the field.
Smart Metering will provide New Benefits
- Automated power outage management, the system is designed to notify the City of Fulton when your electric meter loses power.
- Loss prevention , the City of Fulton will have improved ways to detect and thus prevent the theft of power, which is a savings to all customers.
Smart Metering Opens a Pathway to the Future
- You will have access to your billing and usage information via the web
- You will have access to easy-to-use tools via the web to help you save energy and money
- Enables the potential for in-home information displays
- Pathway to voluntary smart home automation
What is Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)?
AMI will replace electric meters currently used with “next generation” electronic technology designed to improve customer service and enable customers to proactively control their energy use. The key to these meters is technology allowing for two-way communication between the meter and the utility.
How is AMI different from Automated Meter Reading (AMR)?
For several years the City has been installing the AMR meter which has a radio inside the meter and sends consumption information to a handheld device that the meter readers carry with them, the handheld device would be taken back to City Hall and downloaded into the billing computer. An AMR meter can only send information it cannot receive and normally read only once a month. The AMI meter can both send and receive information on voltage, consumption and outage in near real time.
Why are the traditional meters and AMR meters being replaced with smart meters?
In a time of rising energy prices, many states are requiring electric utility companies to provide customers more options to save on their energy bill. Smart meters will encourage customers to think more about how and when electricity is used, which, in turn, will help customers save money and help the City meet current and future energy needs.
What makes a meter “smart”?
Smart meters are equipped with 2-way communications technology. This allows the utility to communicate with smart meters remotely so that certain service requests can be completed faster, such as meter reading, service connections and outage notifications.
Will the communications system interfere with home equipment?
All communications equipment meets criteria set by the Federal Communications Commission and should not interfere with any equipment inside a home or business.
Will customer account and usage information remain secure and confidential?
Yes. The City of Fulton complies with all federal laws regarding the privacy, protection and disclosure of personal information. The meters and the associated communications system are encrypted and equipped with security features to prevent unauthorized access.
Who’s receiving smart meters?
All customers – residences and businesses – will receive smart meters. This is a mandatory service upgrade; The City of Fulton is upgrading all customer meters and meter-reading technology.
Who’ll be installing my smart meter?
The City of Fulton workers that currently service your utility needs will install the new smart meters throughout the service area.
How can I prepare for my smart meter installation?
The day of the smart meter installation, the installer will knock on your door to let you know about the meter change and the brief 5 to 15 minute power outage.
Make sure to provide safe access to your gas, water and electric meters by clearing any obstructions like bushes that need to be trimmed back, items that need to be moved, or cabinets/gates that need to be unlocked.
Be sure to tell people in your household about your upcoming smart meter installation as there will be a brief electrical outage – 5 to 15 minutes – when your meter is installed. In most cases there will be no interruption of natural gas or water service.
In most cases, businesses won’t experience a power outage. However, in all cases, a technician will knock on your door to let you know about the meter change.
Can I make an appointment for my smart meter installation?
Appointments for special needs will be handled on a case-by-case basis – For more information please call the customer service department at the City (592.3111)
Will I be able to read my electric smart meter?
Yes, electric smart meters have an easy-to-read digital display instead of dials. Gas meters will continue to have dials, as they do today.
How many meter readers will be affected and will they lose their jobs?
There are no anticipated layoffs of our full-time meter readers due to Smart Metering. We will continue to gradually reduce and downsize the meter-reader work force through normal attrition and regular business performance assessments. The meter reader position has been a stepping stone for many employees who have advanced to other positions within the City, and we tend to see a high turnover rate in that position as a result. During the phase-in period, we will continue to utilize meter readers. Current full time meter reading employees will be considered for other jobs in the City Workforce
How do you know that the billing usage data being sent wirelessly is actually my data and does not belong to my neighbor?
When data is collected from a meter and transmitted wirelessly to the utility, the data contains specific unique identifiers associated with the customers meter number and service address. These fields are validated numerous times to ensure accuracy before the data is used for Billing.
Will I pay a monthly amount for my new smart meters?
Just like the current meters, the cost is part of the overall bill. The cost for smart meters, as with all meters or equipment purchased is part of regular business expenses and is recovered in rates. To assist the City of Fulton the United States Department of Energy has awarded the City of Fulton a grant for half the cost of the electric system’s expense for the new meter system.