Delmarva Electric Customers
Smart Meters and AMI
What is AMI?
AMI stands for Advanced Metering Infrastructure. AMI encompasses a whole electricity information network including Smart Meters on customer houses, communications to and from a utility, and even, eventually, communication to devices within a customer’s home.
What is a Smart Meter?
A Smart Meter is an electronic meter that is installed in place of current meters on houses and businesses. It enables two way communications between a customer and utility. Smart Meters can record and store information about electricity usage on specified intervals, for example, hourly, and transmit this information periodically to the utility.
Delmarva Power is currently installing Smart Meters for its Delaware customers. These meters will collect hourly data and periodically transmit the data to Delmarva Power.
What is the difference between the Smart Grid and Smart Meters?
Smart Meters are part of the Smart Grid.
The Smart Grid refers to modernizing the whole national electric grid including making transmission and distribution lines more efficient and enabling the electric grid to recover more quickly from problems. The Smart Grid will be an enhanced version of the current electric grid that will include a communications layer in addition to the physical transmission and distribution network. The Smart grid will incorporate two way communications such as the communications between Smart Meters and utilities. Like the current grid, the Smart Grid will keep track of all the electricity flowing on the grid, but it will do that in more detail because it will include an overlay and incorporation of digital technology. The Smart Grid will facilitate incorporation of renewable energy, and it will be more decentralized than the traditional grid.
The Department of Energy provides information about the Smart Grid available at this link:
What are the benefits of a Smart Meter?
Delmarva predicts a number of benefits to customers from Smart Meters including:
• Faster response to customers’ Turn on/Turn Off requests enabled by remote capability
• Reduced need to enter customers’ homes because meters can be read remotely
• Improved accuracy of billing: Smart Meters will help prevent estimated bills, and ensure more accurate billing
• Information for customers: Smart Meters will enable Delmarva Power to provide customers detailed information through My Account about their peak energy usage
• Improved customer service: Smart Meters will help Delmarva better serve customers because representatives will have better access to customer information
• Improved ability to restore service during outages: the Smart Meters will help Delmarva Power identify losses of power more quickly
• Environmental benefits from fewer Delmarva vehicles on the road to read meters or connect/disconnect service
Delmarva Power reminds customers that not all benefits will be available immediately. Benefits will roll out over the next few years.
Will these new meters reduce my electric usage and save me money?
The meters support energy management, but do not by themselves reduce costs. The meters are a first step toward enabling customers to better manage their energy use and costs. Delmarva reports that energy information from your Smart Meter will help you make decisions about your energy use and target ways to save. Smart Meters will enable Delmarva Power to provide customers detailed information, through My Account, about their peak energy usage.
How about meter accuracy and security?
Delmarva reports that its Smart Meter manufacturer tests 100% of its meters, and that Delmarva sample tests each production run of the meters. Delmarva’s Smart Meter testing information can be found at this link: Delmarva Tests Smart Meters for Accuracy.
Delmarva advises that data transmitted over the AMI wireless network and through the associated systems is secured by encryption techniques. Internal applications where various forms of customer related data are stored are password protected. Access is only given to employees who have a need to utilize this information to perform their job duties. Customer consumption data is given to external parties only if customers have given permission.
What is the status of Delmarva’s Smart Meter installation?
Delmarva began installing meters in 2009. Delmarva’s goal is to have new Smart Meters installed for all of its residential and commercial customers by the end of 2011.
Should I be concerned about radio frequency emissions?
We recognize that some information about radio frequency emissions has circulated on the internet, and that some consumers may have concerns. Delmarva Power has posted a fact sheet on smart meters and radio frequency fields. This fact sheet advises that “Delmarva Power’s smart meters use low-level RF fields to send signals from meter to meter in a neighborhood to reach a smaller number of pole-mounted radios or access points that send the meter information to data centers, typically through standard cellular phone networks. Both the smart meters and access points comply with RF limits required by federal regulators.” The fact sheet further advises that studies show that exposure to the RF frequencies from smart meters is very low—lower than other types of consumer devices such as cellular and cordless phones and baby monitors--that the signal strength declines significantly with distance, and that most smart meter devices use RF fields for only a few minutes each day. Please see the fact sheet for more information.
Where can I find information from Delmarva on Smart Meters?
I have solar panels on my house. Can these new meters handle net metering customers like me?
Yes. These smart meters will record the net amount of energy that you use, just as your present meter does.
What does the future hold for AMI?
Eventually, Smart Meters will enable customers to better control their costs. Delmarva Power’s enhanced My Account will provide detailed information on customers’ energy usage enabling customers to better manage their use. Delmarva plans that, eventually, Smart Meters will enable customers to purchase electricity when it is less expensive. At some point, Smart Meters and AMI may even support communication between Delmarva Power and appliances for customers who chose that
I receive natural gas service from Delmarva Power. Will I get a new gas meter?
Delmarva Power will fit the gas meters of its customers with a device that will transmit consumption data over the air once a day. These devices will reduce the need for meter readers to enter the homes of customers who have inside meters, and will help prevent estimated bills.
Links of interest