The City of Gardner plans to install advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) known as smart meters to nearly 9000 homes/customers by fall 2020. A smart meter is an electronic device that can record the consumption of electric energy or water usage and communicates that information directly to the supplier (in this case, the city) for monitoring and billing.
At the Sept. 16 City Council Meeting, the Governing Body directed staff to schedule an informational meeting for the public to learn how smart meters work, answer any questions, and address any concerns from residents/customers. A public informational meeting will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 15, at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Room of the Gardner Justice Center, 16540 N. Moonlight Road. The public is encouraged to attend!
WHY IS THE CITY UPGRADING TO SMART METERS?
The majority of residential water meters are more than 15 years old and in need of replacement. Because of aging infrastructure, in 2018, there was a 13% unaccounted water loss, which equates to approximately $798,000 in lost revenues. The need for better water usage reporting prompted staff to replace the existing meters with improved metering technology called smart meters. In researching the many benefits of smart meters, it was necessary to include the electric infrastructure as well to offer more real-time use reporting to our customers.
Also, smart meters provide many vital functions that were not previously possible, or the functions were performed manually. These functions include the ability to automatically and remotely measure electricity and water use, connect and disconnect electric service, detect tampering, identify and isolate outages, and monitor voltage and water pressure. Combined with customer technologies, it will provide a customer portal for alerts and historical data.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF USING SMART METERS?
- Real-time electric and water usage
- Reduced costs for metering and billing
- More customer control over electricity and water consumption, costs, and bills
- Lower outage costs and fewer inconveniences for customers from faster outage restoration (Smart meters enable utilities to isolate outages faster and dispatch repair crews more precisely. This reduces outage duration, limits inconvenience, and reduces labor hours and truck rolls for outage diagnosis and restoration.)
- Remote electric service connection and disconnection orders in hours instead of days
- Tamper and theft detection through smart meters deployments enhance revenue collection and lower costs
- Smart meters data integration with other information and management systems, including outage management systems (OMS) and geographic information systems (GIS), has enabled utilities to create detailed outage maps, and in some cases posted these maps on utility websites to keep the public informed on service restoration progress
- Voltage monitoring to alert staff of potential problems in the system
HOW WILL THE CITY PROTECT CUSTOMERS' PRIVACY?
Protecting utility customers' information is a top priority, so all information collected from the smart meter is transmitted through an encrypted network. The meters use multiple layers of security, including the same type of data encryption used by the online banking industry.
Smart meters do not collect, store, or transmit any personal information. Like a traditional meter, the only information collected is the amount of energy or water a customer uses. All your energy and water usage information is kept confidential by the city and its vendors. The city will NEVER sell or trade customer information to other companies.
ARE THE FREQUENCY SIGNALS EMITTED BY SMART METERS SAFE?
Any device that uses wireless technology produces low-level radio frequency emissions. The radio frequency from a smart meter is far below that of most household appliances.
WILL THE RADIO FREQUENCY FROM THE SMART METERS INTERFERE WITH ANY OTHER WIRELESS DEVICES IN THE HOME?
The radio frequency communicating to the electric meter is very low. It will not interfere with any wireless devices in the home.
WHEN WILL CUSTOMERS RECEIVE THEIR SMART METERS?
The city will upgrade all of its water and electric meters by the end of fall 2020. Implementation will start fall 2019 upon the Governing Body's approval.
WHAT CHANGES CAN CUSTOMERS EXPECT ON THEIR UTILITY BILL ONCE THE SMART METERS ARE INSTALLED?
Customers' utility bills are determined by consumption, which fluctuates based on usage. Customers will not see any additional fees from the city.
CAN ELECTRIC AND WATER CUSTOMERS OPT OUT OF HAVING SMART METERS?
The city has not established a Smart Meter program at this time. Upon approval of the project, a smart program will be developed, which will address the opt-out discussion.
WHO WILL INSTALL THE SMART METERS?
The selected vendor will provide installation services.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO INSTALL A SMART METER?
A smart meter can be installed in a matter of minutes, during which you may experience a brief power interruption.
WHOM SHOULD I CONTACT IF I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS?
Please contact our Utility Department at 913.856.0980 for any additional questions.