SMART Meters Frequently Asked Questions

 

1. How does SMART meter technology work?

SMART meters measure customer energy usage and transmits that data digitally to the utility company using a wireless area network (WAN) similar to the way cell phone communications work. For a diagram showing how the technology works click here.

2. Have the possible health effects of radio frequency (RF) communications from SMART meters been assessed?

Similar to household appliances, SMART Meters emit electromagnetic fields (EMF). The bulk of scientific literature fails to conclude that exposure to these fields is a threat to human health. While some studies have suggested such a link, the vast majority of scientific literature indicates otherwise.

SMART Meters are designed to avoid interfering with home electronics. In the future, the meters may be able to help customers determine which electronics are consuming the most energy in their homes or businesses, giving them more control over their bills.

SMART Meters emit roughly one watt of radio frequency (RF). This is significantly less than the wattage emitted by cell phones or wireless computer routers. SMART Meters transmit radio signals once every four hours with each transmission lasting only 0.05 seconds.

For more information about FCC guideline regarding RF exposure, visit http://www.fcc.gov/oet/rfsafety/

Comparison of RF Power Density in the Everyday Environment

FM radio or TV broadcast signal

0.0005 microwatts

SMART meter device at 10 feet

0.01 microwatts

Cyber café (Wi-Fi)

10-20 microwatts

Laptop computer

10-20 microwatts

Cell phone held too head

30-10,0000 microwatts

Walkie-talkie at head

500-42,000 microwatts

Microwave oven, 2 inches from the door

5,000 microwatts

Source: Richard Tell Associates, Inc.

3. How can I be sure that my SMART meter is accurate?

In 2007, TID invested in a pilot project with SMART meters to test their effectiveness. First the SMART meters went through rigorous testing to ensure that the consumption reading was accurate. Then 1160 meters were placed in the pilot area and read both electronically and manually via our meter readers to check for accuracy. All pilot meter accounts were also closely monitored for major increases or decreases.  There were no significant discrepancies and the Board approved the replacement of existing meters to SMART meters over a four year period The decision to replace the meters over four years allows existing staff to change the meters as well as maintain control of the critical meter reading and billing processes.

If you have seen significant change in your bill, please contact Customer Service at 883-8222 to discuss your bill with a customer service representative.

4. Will the SMART meter interfere with other wireless devices in my home?

No, TID’s Smart meters have been approved by the FCC and should not interfere with other devices in or around your home.

5. Is the SMART meter network secure?

Yes, all necessary steps have been taken to ensure that all data being transmitted is secure.

6. How can I be sure that the data being transmitted is my usage and not my neighbors?

Each meter has a special identifier associated with the customer meter number and service address. The process in data collection is similar to cell phone technology where individual numbers are used to communicate with a cell tower and connect your phone to the right location. 

7. Will I be able to read my electric SMART meter?

Yes, SMART meters have digital displays that cycle through four to six different readings. For instructions on how to read your SMART meter, click here.

8. What are the immediate benefits of SMART meters?

  • All your energy data will be wirelessly transmitted to TID via a secure connection, which will help to reduce operating costs.
  • The secure technology will ensure the most accurate bill possible, because it will no longer be necessary to estimate bills when we are unable to access your meter.
  • The two-way communication allows for remote service connects and disconnects so you no longer have to worry about leaving the gate open, securing pets, or waiting for a service technician. 
  • Eventually, meter readers will no longer be required to read meters once a month, thus reducing pollution, fuel consumption and traffic.

9. What are the long-term benefits of the SMART meters?

Some of the anticipated benefits of smart meters:

  • Eventual online access to up-to-date consumption information allowing you better control over your energy usage and your bill. 
  • THe ability to track what appliances and other electronic devices are costing you the most so you have the information needed to make your home more energy efficient.
  • The new meters will help to identify power outages to restore power as quickly as possible.
  • As advances in technology continue, we expect that additional benefits will become available allowing us to increase efficiency and provide customers with more direct control over their energy usage.

10. Are there plans for TID to charge different rates for peak and off-peak energy usage?

Currently there are no plans for time of use energy rates. For current rate schedules, please click here.