New technologies are making your
everyday items better, faster and cheaper. And how we deliver your electricity
is also improving, thanks to innovative technologies.
Your electricity delivery system is a network of wires,
transformers, switches and meters set up as a grid to ensure electricity travels efficiently and seamlessly from
power plants to our customers. A smart
grid is “smart” because, much like a smart phone that has a computer in it,
a smart grid uses computer-based remote control and automation. Bringing two-way
communication technology and computer processing to electricity grids
provides a number of benefits to both utility companies and the customers we
We are committed to
smart grid technology, helping our customers save money and take control of
their energy usage through the introduction of smart meters in homes and
businesses throughout the region. These smart meters provide more accurate energy
readings and allow customers to view their detailed energy usage and billing
breakdown through the easy-to-use online tool, My Account. Make
sure to check out our Smart Meter page to learn more about how
to take advantage of this important technology.
The story goes that if Alexander Graham Bell were to visit
the 21st century, he would not recognize most of our modern
technology – computers, cell phones, cell towers – but he would be totally
familiar with our century-old electricity grid. For over 100 years, utility
companies have had to send workers out in the field to read meters, fix
malfunctioning or broken meters, and take voltage measurements. Adding two-way
communications and computer processing to the various components of the
electricity grid from transformers to switches to devices in your home or
business means that the network can be connected to a central operations
facility. An example of a device in your home or business is the smart meter.
The grid is one of the most significant achievements of the
20th century. It powers our homes, our businesses, hospitals,
schools, traffic lights and more. It is also the most reliable system in the
world. Yet with more people needing more electricity to power their
televisions, phones, computers, tablet computers and air conditioners, demand
has skyrocketed and the current grid struggles to keep up. Delivering reliable
energy to meet the rising demand is impeded by devices that are not automated,
because they are slow to respond and unable to quickly provide the necessary
information or restore power in the case of a blackout.
smart grid will enhance generation, transmission, distribution and consumption
of electricity. It will help utility companies not only know exactly where an
outage occurs, and re-route power around failed equipment to quickly restore
your service, but it will also prevent service disruptions by detecting and
dealing with potential issues before they cause problems.
will also gain greater control over their own power use. Armed with data about
when electricity is most expensive and cheapest, you can make choices to change
your habits and save money.
biggest cost savings in using a smart grid will likely be in improved
efficiency of electricity delivery. Historically, utility companies supply
extra voltage into the grid to cover potential dips somewhere on that grid.
With a smart grid, utility companies can supply the minimum amount of voltage
to address identified voltage drops on the grid, which will result in greater
efficiency and cost savings.
A smarter grid will enable an electric system that is
reliable, resilient, responsive, more energy efficient and secure, offering
many benefits to both utilities and our customers.
Having access to information when you want it and when you
need it is always a benefit. The smart grid provides you access to your energy
information in real-time, which allows you to monitor your consumption and make
smarter choices to achieve savings.
A smart grid can also help decrease rates by reducing demand
during peak times. You can voluntarily set consumption limits that we will
follow during peak times to help reduce your rates. Real-time pricing allows
you to see how much electricity you are using and to make changes in your
electricity use to times of day when rates are cheaper.
The smart grid enables two-way communication with customers.
Integrating consumers into the electricity delivery process is not only a
benefit to you, but also a benefit to us. With more engaged consumers and
better information, we can move forward with expanding projects to deliver your
energy faster and more cost-effectively.
While historically, we depended upon customers to alert us
of problems and sending workers out to find problems on the grid, a smart grid
can detect and analyze issues and quickly take actions to mitigate or correct
them, often preventing any service disruptions.
In the event of a power outage, smart grid technology
instantly alerts us and pinpoints the location of the outage. This benefit is
critical in helping us restore power to your home or business faster and more
efficiently than ever before.
Remotely reading meters and correcting issues on the grid
reduces the number of our vehicles on the road. A smart grid also enables
generation from varied and distant power sources, decreasing the need to build
new or dirtier power generation sources and increasing the use of more
efficient renewable energy resources.
A smart grid will enable customers to become active
participants in when and how they use energy, enabling you to modify your
electricity use and become more energy efficient. The smart grid will also expand power
generation options, including renewable sources, such as solar and wind, and
new and emerging storage and other technologies.
We hear and understand your concerns over smart
technologies. Whether you are using a cell phone, your microwave or a
hairdryer, there are always concerns about how technology is impacting your
health and your privacy. However, some of your concerns may be based on myths
generated through hearsay instead of scientific fact. In addition to the
information below, we encourage you to do your research and have provided links
to several recent studies.
myth that through the smart grid, utility companies will know what their customers
are using their energy for. This is not true. You can charge your phone or
computer, use a kitchen appliance or watch TV, and we will only know how much
power you are using, not what you are using it for. This is no different than
what we do today.
myth that smart meters will harm your health. This is also not true. Smart
meters communicate wirelessly through radio frequency (RF) waves and the myth
suggests that exposure to these waves may have an adverse impact on your
health. Smart meters are not harmful to your health since they only produce
intermittent and low levels of RF waves. Most of us already keep many RF
wave-emitting devices with or near us all day. Smart meters only produce RF
waves for a few minutes each day and emit fewer waves than many other devices,
such as radios, cell phones, televisions and microwaves. The Federal
Communication Commission (FCC) has set a standard that limits the RF waves
produced by smart meters. All devices must also be tested before they are used
and are FCC-approved.
The smart grid will continue to evolve over time. We are
already utilizing many of the technologies and tools to make the grid more
reliable, efficient, affordable, secure and green. A smart grid gives you
tangible savings and greater control over how you use energy, what energy
sources you use and when you use them. As more and more of our consumers are
inspired to become part of the smart grid and have smart meters installed at
their homes and businesses, we hope to transform how energy is consumed and
managed for everyone.