February 18, 2013
I want to thank Jerry Collins, President of MLGW, for reading and responding to my posting on Smart Meters. He invited me to meet with Chris Bieber, Vice President of Customer Care. I also met three other employees involved in Smart Meters.
I had a series of questions which I put to them and they were all answered with good and complete answers. Here are some of the high points.
- Are there any directives or financial grants from TVA or the federal government concerning smart meters and its use and present and future purposes? The federal government came down with a lot of money after the 2009 stimulus and we got some for a downtown electrical project but none for smart meters. Chattanooga which was apparently faster on their feet, got lots more. As a result they have a lot more smart meters paid for by federal taxpayer money. The Federal money has dried up for now.
- Tell me about the electric rate schedule from TVA to MLGW. Is MLGW charged time of day rates? Answer-TVA started charging MLGW time of day rates in October 2012 (the beginning of TVA’s fiscal year) at the request of the MLGW. I found this interesting as this was just before the 2012 November election. I will publish more on time of day rates later. Time of day electric rates take into account that electricity cannot be stored. Therefore the base load is best carried by nuclear plants and hydro generators. When you need more power during the summer peak times (12pm to 8pm during weekdays and during winter 4am to10am during weekdays), TVA has to put on auxiliary generating plants which costs more money.
- What company furnished the 1200 smart meters that were installed in 2010? They were purchased from SmartSynch which has since been taken over by Itron. They cost around $200 each.
The new order for 60,000 meters will be bid by the middle of March 2013. They will not have the inside home display device used in the original 1200 smart meters as the inside home display did not work due to technical problems. Instead the user will be able to monitor the meter online. The new order will contain new smart meters for gas and water as well as electric so that all three services can be metered.
No one will be required to take smart meters unless they want them. However those who refuse them may eventually have to pay an extra fee for a human meter reader to come out and read their meters. The 60,000 new meters will be spread out over the city and county more or less evenly so that the MLGW gets a broad experience with various customers with different usage and income patterns.
My overall impression of this program, as it was explained to me, is favorable. I was raised in a home where we conserved things and did not waste food, energy or the other essentials of life. We waste a lot of energy in this country due to poor construction standards and not being directly affected by poor conservation habits. By being able to directly relate our utility bills to our habits could cause us to change our habits to save utility money. Example: If you operate your electric dishwasher, clothes dryer and oven at the same time, your power demand measured in KW is greater than if you operated them separately. Smart meters can help you to make common sense decisions and form conservation habits.
This is a complicated subject and it will take years to educate the public. There will be savings to the MLGW in that excess meter readers as they quit work at the MLGW will not be replaced. The average meter reader leaves after 3 years due to the requirements of the job. Mr. Bieber assures me that no one will be required to take a smart meter if they do not want it and no one will be arrested for refusing a smart meter. However, I pointed out to him that in the final analysis, it will be the Federal government that will set the policy concerning smart meters, not the MLGW.
I will publish more information in the next few weeks on smart meters and how they will affect you.