When OG&E began offering SmartHours for their customers, it was on my radar but it wasn’t something I thought much about, since I’ve been an Edmond resident for many years. Now that Edmond Electric is offering a similar pilot program with smart meters, the concept of smart meters has been on my mind more often.
Edmond Electric recently received approval on a $45,000 pilot program for smart meters, which will be tested on approximately 300 customers who have volunteered for the pilot program.
As I began to do research on smart meters, I realized that this issue has been and remains a hot button issue not only for Edmond, but several communities and states.
While we don’t object to the program here at Baxter, we thought we would clarify some key points from the “pro” and “con” side of the argument. That way you can decide for yourself if smart meters are something you want to use in the future.
For smart meters
Smart meters collect and transmit an enormous amount of data which can be very useful in detecting and correcting issues within the electrical grid. This efficiency saves time, energy, money and resources for the utility provider.
Other added efficiencies from smart meters include eliminating the need for manual meter readings and providing more efficient distribution of power to end users (homeowners) throughout the day. The real-time data captured allows for dynamic rate structures like SmartHours, where rates change due to peak and off-peak demand fluctuations.
The argument for smart meters is based on the idea that fluctuating costs of doing business will be passed on proportionally to the end users. If it costs less for the energy provider, it should cost less for the homeowner.
It also correctly states it gives homeowners more control of their eventual bill, if they are willing to change their energy consumption behaviors.
Against smart meters
Honestly, I was not aware that there was such a vocal crowd against smart meters until I did some routine internet research. Some of the main arguments against smart meters focus on three concerns.
1. Radio transmissions signals may be harmful to people’s health. Websites linked to dozens of instances where legal action has been taken due to complaints of injuries resulting from smart meters. Health advocate groups have fought implementation in several communities across the country.
2. Cyber security concerns are present as this places all electrical systems under the same network of control. The theory here is that any computer device can be hacked.
3. Privacy concerns due to the information-gathering capabilities of smart meters. These sites appear unified around how detailed the information is, and that it can point out when specific appliances are used. The concern appears to be potential loss of control over when consumers can use power, or having their usage information sold to third parties.
Ultimately, we don’t want to be an advocate for either side of the debate. For what it’s worth, we have not heard one client, whether an Oklahoma City area OG&E customer, or Edmond Electric customer, voice their opinion on the matter in their dealings with us as their electrical service provider.