Are Smart Meters the Smart Move?

Smart Meters

Picture illustrates an analog meter (left) vs. a smart meter (right).

Smart meters are the next generation of gas and electricity meters that automatically capture and send energy data from homes and businesses back to the electric companies – rather than having meter readers go in to every building and manually read analog meters. As the demand for energy continues to increase, it is becoming more and more important to manage our energy more efficiently.

Smart meters are a way to support the new wave of smart appliances, vehicles and renewable resources while providing consumers with real-time energy consumption data.  This allows consumers to easily monitor their energy use over the course of the day, week, or month so they can review, track and make more informed energy choices.  Third parties can also tailor their products to consumers’ specific usage, allowing for more efficiency.

Smart Meters seem to be the way of the future, however, all technology has its benefits and drawbacks.

Benefits of Smart Meters:

  1. Allows utility companies to enable dynamic pricing (raising / lowering the costs of electricity based on demand).
  2. Helps manage the demand on the grid and increase service and reliability. Providing real-time data to utility companies is useful in balancing electric loads and reducing power outages.
  3. Eliminates the cost to utility companies for meter reads and the inconvenient process for consumers.
  4. Offers consumers more detailed feedback on energy and more control of monthly costs.
  5. More accurate bills and eliminates overpaying (or underpaying) for your energy.

Drawbacks of Smart Meters:

  1. Eliminates the meter reader job position.
  2. Viewed as a vulnerable infrastructure and a cybersecurity threat.
  3. Utility companies will need to manage and store vast quantities of meter data and ensure its’ security.
  4. Personal data of consumers will be potentially up for grabs to purchase by third parties.
  5. Additional fees for a new meter may apply.
  6. Concern that pulsed radiation of smart meters can cause serious health problems.