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Poll: Are You a Real Techie?

Is Your New Electric Meter Working For or Against You?

Two public forums are scheduled where DC residents and business people can find out about the installation of the new electric (smart) meters Pepco is installing in every home by the end of 2011.

See Also: Affordable Utilities Now

The first forum is set for July 6 and will be held at the Model Cities Senior Center, 1901 Evarts St., NE in DC. The second forum is July 21 at Sherwood Recreation Center, 10th & G, NE in DC.

A smart meter, a component of the smart grid, is a digital device that records electricity usage on an interval basis, usually every fifteen minutes or hourly.

Smart meters are equipped with wireless communications technology that transmits the consumer’s usage data to PEPCO and can also send pricing data from PEPCO to a smart thermostat or in-home display located inside the consumer’s home. According to PEPCO, meters will accumulate data in 15-minute intervals which will be sent to PEPCO every four hours.

People often confuse the terms “smart grid” and “smart meters.” The two are not the same.

Experts representing the Office of the People’s Counsel and AARP will answer questions such as:

  • Why am I getting a new electric (smart) meter?
  • Can I keep my current meter and refuse this new meter?
  • Will I lose power during the meter exchange?
  • What do I need to do if someone in my home is on life support?
  • Will I receive any notice before the meter exchange?
  • What types of costs will I incur?
  • How will I benefit from a new Smart Meter?

Dynamic pricing proposals will also be among the topics of discussion at each forum.

Currently, the price of electricity for most electric consumers does not reflect the fact that the cost of production varies dramatically throughout the day as electricity demand changes. With smart meters, utility companies can gather the information needed to reduce their operational costs, and offer consumers the opportunity to better control their electric utility costs.

How? Utility companies can charge consumers different prices for electricity depending on the time of day the electricity is used. If lower electricity prices cause people to shift some of the electric usage away from peak demand periods, that will reduce the stress on utility company generators and transmitters. It will also allow consumers to save money. For example, consumers might use certain home appliances during low usage periods of the day rather than peak usage periods.

However, it’s uncertain how many consumers could or would reduce their electricity bills through the use of dynamic pricing systems. Some consumers, such as those who use electric medical equipment, may not have the ability to shift electric usage to a lower demand period. High-income, high-use consumers might benefit from dynamic pricing systems more than low-income, low-use consumers. Either way, by shifting usage away from high demand periods, the utility company stands to save money by reducing the stress on the utility system.

So, attend the AARP DC co-sponsored utility forum on July 6th and 21st and find out how your new electric (smart) meter will affect you. Find out which pricing proposals which could give you a chance to save money and which proposals will offer you little or no cost savings.

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