b energy smart meter faqs 2


ABOUT SMART METERS


WHEN WILL SMART METERS BE INSTALLED


INSTALLATION PROCESS


INSTALLATION PROCESS



SAFETY


SECURITY


OPTING OUT


MISCELLANEOUS


IF YOU HAVE MORE QUESTIONS


ABOUT SMART METERS

What makes a "smart meter" different from my old meter?

A smart meter, like your old meter, registers how much electricity you use. The main difference is that it will send your consumption information wirelessly back to AMP’s service center, eliminating the need for someone to visit your home or business to collect the meter reading. The smart meters are able to collect more usage information than the old meters, allowing you to see how you use electricity daily or hourly.

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Are smart meters accurate?

Because they are digital, smart meters are often more accurate than mechanical meters, which tend to degrade and slow down as they age. Smart meters are subjected to strict design standards when they are manufactured, and AMP tests meters on a random basis both before and after installation to confirm accurate operation.

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How big is the smart meter, and where will it be located?

A smart meter fits into the existing size and shape of the meter base currently at your location. Meter location cannot be changed.

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How is AMP paying for the smart meter installations?

There is no direct charge for this or other utility system upgrades. Meters, like other equipment upgrades made to the utility system, are already included in AMP’s capital expenses.

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What will AMP do with the old meters that are being replaced?

AMP is recycling all the meters that are being exchanged.

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Will smart meters be installed on solar/net energy metering systems?

If your home or business has a solar/net energy metering system, your electric meter will be replaced with a smart meter. It will not affect your compensation.

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INSTALLATION TIMELINE

When will the meters be upgraded?

The upgrades are scheduled to occur throughout Alameda’s service territory from April 2017-December 2017.

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Do I need to make an appointment?

You don’t need to make an appointment to receive your upgraded meter. 

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If I need to make an appointment for my meter upgrade, how do I schedule it?

If you need to schedule an appointment because the installer was unable to access your meter or you need your upgrade to take place at a specific time, please call PMI at (866) 992-8473 Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. or Saturday 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

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Will I be contacted in advance of my meter exchange?

Yes. AMP will make every attempt to notify you. All customers will receive a letter in the mail approximately two to three weeks before installing meters in your neighborhood. PMI will also attempt to notify you by knocking on your door before exchanging your meter.

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What time of day will PMI install meters?

PMI will install meters from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.

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INSTALLATION PROCESS

Who will install the new meters?

AMP has contracted with Professional Meters, Inc., (PMI) to upgrade our existing meters to smart meters.

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What can I expect? 

See the Installation page for full details...

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Why did I see an installer taking photos of my meter? 

All installers are required to take a number of photos for quality-assurance activities. AMP and the installation contractor will have these photos on file to ensure complete accuracy of your meter records.

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ROOFTOP SOLAR AND SMART METERS

Will smart meters be installed on solar/net energy metering systems?

If your home or business has a solar/net energy metering system, your electric meter will be replaced with a smart meter. It will not affect your compensation.

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Will the PMI installer know whether a house has solar power?

AMP has contracted with Professional Meters, Inc., (PMI) to upgrade our existing meters to smart meters.

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Does the solar system have to be de-energized before PMI installs the new meter, and is there any chance of damage?

The solar system does not have to be de-energized.

PMI will turn off the customer's main breaker, which turns off power to the entire house, including the solar inverter. When the solar inverter loses power, it will shut down the solar system.

After meter installation is complete, PMI will turn the customer's main breaker back on, energizing the house and solar inverter. The solar system will clear and reset itself..

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Do the new meters start at zero?

Yes, all the meters will start at zero.

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If the new meters start at zero, how will that impact the annual true up?

Final reads are registered on the old meters. The new meters will have new reads. The annual true up is the summation of all the months on the meters, so the total will be correct on the annual true up.

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SAFETY

Are smart meters safe? Have they been tested?

AMP's smart meters, manufactured by Landis & Gyr, undergo extensive safety testing.

  • A subset of Landis & Gyr meters are tested as part of the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) certification process. (UL is an independent, not-for-profit, product safety testing and certification organization.)

  • Multiple independent labs have performed meter safety tests for Landis & Gyr.In addition, Landis & Gyr conducts internal safety tests on its meters.

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What are radio frequency (RF) waves?

Radio frequency waves are a form of electromagnetic energy. They move through space at the speed of light and can be man-made or occur naturally. They move through space at the speed of light and can be man-made or occur naturally. 

RF itself has become synonymous with wireless and high-frequency signals, describing anything from AM radio between 535 kHz and 1605 kHz to computer local area networks (LANs) at 2.4 GHz. However, RF has traditionally defined frequencies from a few kHz to roughly 1 GHz. If one considers microwave frequencies as RF, this range extends to 300 GHz.

RF and wireless have been around for over a century with Alexander Popov and Sir Oliver Lodge laying the groundwork for Guglielmo Marconi’s wireless radio developments in the early 20th century.

Smart meters use low-energy radio frequency waves to transmit information across distances.

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How are people exposed to RF radiation?

People can be exposed to RF radiation from both natural and man-made sources.People can be exposed to RF radiation from both natural and man-made sources.

  • Natural sources include:
  • Outer space and the sun
  • The sky – including lightning strikes
  • The earth itself – most radiation from the earth is infrared, but a tiny fraction is RF

Man-made RF radiation is used for many different things, such as

  • Broadcasting radio and television signals
  • Transmitting signals from cordless telephones, cell phones and cell phone towers, satellite phones, and 2-way radios
  • Radar
  • Home/Public WiFi 
  • All devices using Bluetooth such as wireless speakers, headphones, and security systems, Amazon Echo, Google Home
  • Laptops
  • Smart meters
  • Remote control devices such as tv remotes, keyless entries for automobiles
  • Cooking food (in a microwave oven)
  • Millimeter wave scanners (a type of full body scanner used for security screening)

Most people are exposed to much lower levels of man-made RF radiation every day due to the presence of RF signals all around us. They come from radio and television broadcasts, WiFi and Bluetooth, cell phones (and cell phone towers), and other sources. RF from smart meters is just one of the many sources people are exposed to every day.

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What is the radio frequency level of AMP’s smart meters?

AMP’s meters use a low-powered radio, which operates in the 902-928MHz frequency.

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How does the RF emitted by smart meters compare to other electronic devices that emit RF?

  • Cell phones: 1,000 to 5,000 microwatts
  • Microwave ovens: 50 to 200 microwatts
  • Smart meters at a distance of 3 feet: 40 microwatts
  • Smart meters at a distance of 10 feet: 4 microwatts
  • Wireless routers at a distance of 4 feet: 0.2 to 1 microwatts
  • FM radio/television broadcast: 0.005 to 1 microwatts

How often do AMP’s electric smart meters release radio frequency waves?

AMP’s electric smart meters, which are manufactured by Landis and Gyr, emit about 83 seconds of total transmissions per day during normal operations

  • The meters transmit data packets an average of seven times per day. There are additional “maintenance” and “sync” transmissions each day. 

  • 270 maintenance transmissions per day and 1,440 sync transmissions per day.• Duration of each maintenance transmission is 46 milliseconds, for a total of 12.52 seconds per day.

  • Each sync transmission is 48 milliseconds, for a total of 69 seconds per day. 

  • These additional transmissions along with the original meter-read transmission total 83 seconds per day. 

  • The power output and duration of signal are well within FCC guidelines for emissions exposure.

Regardless of the number of transmissions, the duration and power output of AMP's smart meters are well within FCC safe exposure levels. When we tested our meters, our readings were between 1-6 microwatts per square centimeter when 2 feet away from the meter, compared to the FCC limit of 601 microwatts per square centimeter.

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How do the radio frequency waves of AMP’s smart meters compare to the radio frequency waves of PGE’s smart meters?

PG&E’s electric smart meters and AMP’s electric smart meters have the same level of radio frequency waves at 902-928 MHz. 

AMP’s meters use a low-powered radio which operates in the 902-928MHz frequency. The power output is less than 0.6 watts and the meter transmits for milliseconds at a time, amounting to about 83 seconds of transmissions each day. Some of PG&E’s gas smart meters in our area operate on a lower frequency (450-470 MHz) but have a higher power output, which increases the radio frequency exposure. AMP’s meters are well within the guidelines for permissible exposure levels set by the FCC for health and safety standards.

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Is a person’s exposure to radio frequency waves impacted by how close he or she is to the meter?

Radio frequency emissions weaken significantly as the distance between you and the device increases. The casing of a smart meter, as well as wall construction materials, also decreases the level of radio frequency waves in the vicinity. Continuously standing in front of a smart meter would result in the highest exposure a person could experience, and even then the exposure would be approximately 70 times less than the FCC limits.

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Is the radio frequency level of AMP’s smart meters approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)?

Yes. The FCC sets radio frequency limits and requires that all radio communicating devices be tested to ensure that they meet federal standards before they are allowed to transmit within the radio spectrum.

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Can smart meters cause illness?

The American Cancer Society, which has published information on its website related to smart meters, says the possibility of smart meters being connected to an elevated risk of cancer is “very unlikely.” The organization explains that smart meters have lower levels of radio frequency waves than cell phones.

It would be nearly impossible to conduct a study to prove or disprove a link between living in a house with smart meters and cancer because people have so many sources of exposure to RF and the level of exposure from this source is so small,” according to a statement from the American Cancer Society, which is posted on the organization’s website. “Because, the amount of RF radiation you could be exposed to from a smart meter is much less than what you could be exposed to from a cell phone, it is very unlikely that living in a house with a smart meter increases risk of cancer.”  

Reports from several other independent agencies, including the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) and the California Public Utilities Commission, have also found that smart meters have lower levels of radio frequency waves than those of everyday appliances, such as cell phones.

Click here to read the CCST report titled, “Health Impacts of Radio Frequency Exposure from Smart Meters.”

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Are smart meters a fire hazard?

AMP's smart meters, manufactured by Landis & Gyr, have no history of fires. They detect abnormal temperatures and/or conditions and send an alert to AMP so staff can investigate.

An older generation of smart meters -- that were not manufactured by Landis & Gyr -- were associated with fires in the past.

There was an accident in Stockton, California, in 2015, in which a high-voltage line dropped on a distribution circuit. In some cases, the meters, and/or meter covers, were dislodged from the socket as a result of the surge. Since the surge caused the damage, the meter issues would have occurred regardless of the meter type.

AMP's Landis & Gyr smart meters undergo safety testing as part of the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) certification process. UL is an independent, not-for-profit product safety testing and certification organization, serving the public for more than a century. AMP's smart meters are in compliance with federal health and safety standards.

 

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SECURITY

How will AMP keep my information secure?

AMP treats the privacy and security of our customers’ personal information as a top priority. AMP uses encryption to keep meter data confidential, transmitting it to the utility over a wireless network with multiple layers of security incorporated throughout the system.

The performance of security measures are tested and reviewed regularly to guard against unauthorized access to systems. Moreover, AMP works with federal agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Energy, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to strengthen privacy and security standards to provide even more safeguards for consumer protection.

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Do you have an updated privacy policy covering the data collected from the meters?

AMP has a new privacy policy that covers the data collected from the meters. The policy was approved by the city of Alameda's Public Utilities Board at its June 26, 2017 meeting. Click here for the privacy policy.

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What data is collected and stored by a customer’s smart meter?

No customer-identifying information – such as names and addresses– is stored in the meters or transmitted across the network. Just like AMP’s old analog meters, smart meters collect how much electricity a customer uses. The main difference is that smart meters collect more of that information. 

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Who will have access to customer information?

Access to information is restricted to authorized AMP personnel, who need that data to satisfy a business function, such as improvements in billing and customer service.

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Will AMP sell my private information?

AMP will never sell customer information to third parties for their use in marketing their products or services to our customers.

Will smart meters interfere with my other wireless devices?

The wireless communications for the smart meters use the 900 MHz frequency range, which is common to many household devices. Home Wi-Fi networks and wireless phones are typically in the 2.4 GHz to 5 GHz range, so they should not be affected.

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OPTING OUT

Can I opt out of having a smart meter?

Residential customers have the option to decline the installation of a smart meter until the end of calendar year 2019. The fees for opt out are $125 to enroll and $10 monthly. 

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How do I opt out of having a smart meter installed?

Customers are encouraged to notify AMP ahead of their scheduled installation to prevent incurring additional expenses for duplicate meter exchanges. Click here find out more information about opting out of the Energy inView Program.

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MISCELLANEOUS

Will there be new website features?

AMP is developing new account-management tools that will allow customers to pay their electric bill from any device, anywhere, and anytime. Plus, they will have the option to track their energy use for every hour of the day.

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How will AMP present smart meter readings?

We're capturing energy usage in 15-minute intervals. Once we launch our new web portal in the coming months, residential customers will be able to log in to see their usage in 1-hour increments and commercial customers will be able to view it in 15-minute intervals.

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 IF YOU HAVE MORE QUESTIONS

Additional questions about AMP’s smart meters?

If you need more information on smart meters and the Energy inView Program, please call our customer service representatives at (510) 748-3900.

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