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ComEd Rolling Out ‘Smart’ Meters, Ameren To Follow

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Q: Will I know when they’re coming?
A: Schoen says ComEd crews will knock on your door a day before installation and leave a door hanger with information. He says installation takes about 10 minutes and usually can be done from outside the home.

Q: Who’s paying for them?
A: Customers ultimately will pay for the overall modernization effort through higher rates. Com Ed says its average customer will pay an additional $3 per month over the 10-year life of its $2.6 billion modernization effort. Ameren, which has fewer customers, says theirs will pay an average $3.40 more per year over 10 years to pay for its $643 million plan.

But the utilities say customers can save even more money because they’ll be able to track daily electric consumption on the companies’ websites and make simple changes – say, unplugging unused appliances or running dishwashers at off-peak hours. With the older analog meters, that information isn’t available until you get a bill.

Q: What if a customer – say, a senior citizen – doesn’t have a computer or smartphone?
A: Schoen says ComEd is conducting outreach at churches and public events to tell customers about different ways to access the Internet, including through local libraries.

Q: Is my personal information safe?
A: No personal identifying information is stored on a smart meter, and information sent by the meter is matched to the customer only after it gets to ComEd’s data center, Schoen says. He says the company’s data encryption is comparable to that used by banks and the Department of Defense.

Q: Are smart meters safe?
A: Schoen says smart meters’ radio frequency is lower than that in a cellphone or baby monitor, the device is outside the home and does not broadcast a signal continuously.

There were reports of three smart meters catching fire during ComEd’s pilot program, but an Illinois Commerce Commission investigation concluded they were caused by loose connections and corrosion in preexisting casings, not the device itself.

ComEd spokesman John Schoen says the company since has trained employees to check for damage to meter fittings, corrosion and loose wires before installing new meters. If any problems are found, a licensed electrician will arrive within an hour to fix the problem at no additional charge to the customer, Schoen says.

The company also remotely checks the meter temperatures daily and dispatches an inspector immediately if it reaches 160 degrees, he says.

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Posted by FanningCommunications on Oct 1st, 2013 and filed under Techline. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response by filling following comment form or trackback to this entry from your site

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