Smart Meter FAQ
- What are smart meters?
Smart meters are digital devices that collect energy-use data and – unlike traditional meters – transmit and receive data, too. Electric energy use will be recorded every hour at your home and every 15 minutes at your business.
Natural gas information will be available on a daily basis. Smart meters will enable you to monitor your consumption more precisely so you can make more informed energy choices.
- Who's receiving smart meters?
All SDG&E customers – residences and businesses – will receive smart meters. This is a mandatory service upgrade; SDG&E is upgrading all customer meters and meter-reading technology. You’ll be notified by mail a few weeks prior to your smart meter installation.
- How do you know that the billing usage data being sent wirelessly is actually my data and does not belong to my neighbor?
When data is collected from a meter and transmitted wirelessly to SDG&E, the data contains specific unique identifiers associated with the customers meter number and service address.
These fields are validated numerous times to ensure accuracy before the data is used for Billing. This process is similar to the cell phone technology where each cell phone has a unique number that goes with every communication which is used to identify a cell tower and connect your call to the correct location.
- Is SDG&E going to charge different rates for electricity based on time-of-day energy use?
SDG&E residential customers now pay a tiered rate for their energy.
- At what frequency does the smart meter operate and will it interfere with other wireless devices in my home?
Smart meters run on two frequencies. The frequency communicating to the electric meter is 900 MHz (megahertz). If the premise also has a gas meter, the frequency from the electric meter to the gas meter is 2.4 GHz (gigahertz).
The electric meter frequency is similar to a cell phone and the gas meter frequency is similar to a computer router. Neither device will interfere with any wireless devices in the home.
- Is the smart meter network secure?
The Information Technology (IT) security controls SDG&E have in place for smart meters reflect energy industry best practices. They are designed to provide a very high level of assurance that our systems cannot be compromised.
SDG&E considers security a top priority. We take all reasonable and necessary steps to ensure the services we provide our customers are not only high quality and easily available, but also extremely secure.
In addition, we constantly monitor for evolving threats and attempts to breach security and progressively update our system protection as needed. We also regularly review, test and practice incident response processes.
- How do I know smart meters measure accurately?
Smart meter technology has been thoroughly tested by manufacturers and utilities who use a wide range of tests and equipment to ensure that the meters adhere to the established meter accuracy guidelines set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
SDG&E smart meters are tested at the manufacturer then tested again by SDG&E before they are installed. Accuracy results from these tests have shown that smart meters are more accurate than analog, or spinning dial, meters.
- How does the Radio Frequency from the Smart meter compare to appliances in my home or other activities?
Source Radio Frequency Output Compared to standing two feet from a Smart Meter
Standing in front of a microwave oven, two inches from door
550 times more
Holding a walkie-talkie at head
55 – 4,600 times more
Holding a cell phone at head
3.3 – 1,100 times more
Using a laptop computer
1.1 – 2.2 times more
Sitting in a Wi-Fi cyber cafe
1.1 – 2.2 times more
In comparison, a microwave oven generates 550 times more radio frequency energy than a smart meter -- a cell phone generates up to 1,100 times more and a walkie-talkie or baby monitor generates up to 4,600 times more.
Source: Richard Tell Associates, Inc.
- Can I purchase and install or remove my own meter?
No, it is illegal and unsafe to do so. Other than some limited exceptions for existing Direct Access customers and their ESP’s, SDG&E owns and maintains the metering equipment. This includes electric and gas meters used for measurement and billing, and other equipment such as transformers on the ground or on a pole. Removing or tampering with SDG&E property creates a safety issue, which may result in termination of service, and is considered a crime. If done improperly it can result in serious injury or death. Licensed electricians must contact SDG&E when work requires a meter to be removed, reset, or the power cut or reconnected at a customer premise.
- What does the reset button on the front of the electric meter do? What will happen if I push it?
The reset button is used when the meter has been remotely turned on and is ready to be activated. When in this state, the meter display will scroll “Con Ready”.