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New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/23/2012 1:23 PM

Florida Power and Light will install new smart meters (able to be read remotely) in my area soon. On weekends I often run power tools or an arc welder in my back yard while the house AC is running and my wife is cooking or doing laundry. Many years ago I have heard of the power company changing meters and in the process reducing the maximum service to a home and killing the ability for hobbies and domestic activities to exist at the same time. I called FPL and a lady that was challenged by the terms "current", "power", and "voltage" assured me that there would be no changes in my service. Has anyone else had experience with smart meter change outs and can they confirm or dispute what I was told?

We had a somewhat similar utility issue a few years ago. The water department changed out the meters to newer meters that would not change our service. The old meters had 3/4" fittings and the new meters have 1/2" fittings (maybe it was 1" and 3/4", I don't recall for sure). Everything still works but at times we experience pressure changes that prove that "nothing will change" was a policy statement and not a fact.

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#1

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/23/2012 1:36 PM

We have such a meter in Mesa, where I live. I can tell no difference in service.

The smart meter can tell me how much power I consumed during each charging cycle and during peak useage times for each cycle. The rates vary during the year with premimum charges occuring during peak useage times.

We get zapped in the summer time.

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#3
In reply to #1

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/23/2012 1:48 PM

Thanks Lyn,

That helps with my main concern of "can't do it". I know that "smart charges" are probably next but I can't fight that. Since the meter is not in yet I would have had a chance to fight for a size upgrade.

Thanks,

Bruce

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#5
In reply to #3

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/23/2012 2:01 PM

We could save money by altering our life style.

But, for us with 3 small boys and a pool we have no choice but to pay the charges and cook, wash clothes and dishes every day, during the peak period.

Our house is all electric.

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#27
In reply to #5

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/24/2012 7:41 AM

Lyn, get yourself some rooftop PV solar panels! These panels are more than paying for themselves in spades, especially with the warm and sunny winter and spring that we've had here, which is atypical.

We just got our last electric bill, and the monthly billing amounted to $43 and change, mostly for utility hookup charges and taxes. Barely a charge for electrical usage due to our PV panels & "reverse metering"......36 panels rated at 7.56 kW.

Let it shine baby!

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#30
In reply to #27

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/24/2012 9:31 AM

Especially if you can get the government to give you a huge loan guarantee to let you make them at several times the market price per.... and then not prosecute you when you siphon off all the money to give back to the administration in the form of campaign donations...

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#34
In reply to #27

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/24/2012 10:42 AM

And I would imagine that with the same number of panels, with longer hours of sunlight and more sunny days per year in Arizona, that the payback would be higher and quicker than in the mid-Hudson area.

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#36
In reply to #27

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/24/2012 10:59 AM

At my age, I don't know if I'll live to see the payback.

And, if I can ever retire, I won't be living in AZ in the summer anyway. Minnesota is nice in the summer and we're only a couple hundred yards from the lake there.

I will look into it though, maybe the system will make enough juice in the summertime when we're gone to pay the bills in the winter time when we won't be shoveling snow on the prairie.

Thanks.

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#41
In reply to #36

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/24/2012 11:11 PM

Lyn

Do you have SRP or APS? We have APS. They are offering grants for solar water heaters and solar panels for electric. It's close to 90% off the cost of the water heater and 75% off for electric. My neighbor put both in last year and safes a bunch. He was paying over $900 a month during the summer now he's paying about $120. Not bad.

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#42
In reply to #41

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/24/2012 11:24 PM

Hi John,

SRP. I'll look into this but, I'm not sure I want the plumbing and hardware on the roof with 3 boys and neighborhood kids throwing footballs, soccer balls, and other debris onto the roof.

Our bills aren't that high.

Thanks.

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#43
In reply to #42

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/24/2012 11:31 PM

I live in Surprise, the development is mostly two story 6,000 sq ft buildings with pools, spa, lights that run a night, etc.

We have gas water so I'm not to worried about the water heater, but the solar panels I might do.

I have an eight year old daughter so the horse play level is pretty low.

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#2

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/23/2012 1:43 PM

I have a "smart meter" from the stupid electric company. The limiting factor is still the size of the wires between their pole, and your service disconnect.

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#4
In reply to #2

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/23/2012 2:00 PM

Bob,

I assume that they will not be changing the wire from the pole to my house's service entrance. I'm a EE so I understand it.

I'm just double checking to see if power companies are doing things like my water company did. My water utility didn't need to build a bigger water treatment plant after they changed to smaller meters for everyone. I'm just trying to make sure I don't get caught by any utility management decisions about how much they need to invest to provision "normal houses" with electricity.

Thank you,

Bruce

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#9
In reply to #4

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/23/2012 2:51 PM

Following the same pattern as the water company, would result in the meter becoming the current limiting device, and not the existing circuit protection.

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#25
In reply to #9

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/24/2012 3:56 AM

...which would be absurd.

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#23
In reply to #4

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/24/2012 2:04 AM

Hello guys, a smaller water meter is also a means for more accurate measurement and payment.

Reason being that water meters are normally build based on the impeeler principle. So if the water provider installed a larger meter there will be sort of a "water bypass" due to the fact that the meter will not start counting when only a small amont of water is drained, the smaller meters are designed to handle a lower "start-up" quantity and start counting earlier.

For instance a "trickle flow" of hundreds of qm of water due to a rosty pipe which was running for a longer time was totally unnoticed and only visible due the damages to the building. It was only investigated in more details when the readings of 3 sub water meters where compared with the main water meter and the readings of sub meters never summed up with the main meter.

So the size of the water meter might also depend on your normal consumption (or how many qft or qm you are using) In some cases the properties of the water meter are known to the water provider an are factured into the water meter base price with a factor based of the type of water meter installed.

Untill here not much of a problem.

But water meters can have an other design issue: The after run. If the impeeler is running on high speeeds due to large water consumption and you close the tap (terminate the consumption), the meter might still be spinning due to the rotational forces of the impeeler and still clock down water you didn't consume. This can lead to an additional reading of 5% of the consumed qty. and depends on the type of water meter. The higher the flow rate can be (meters for industrial consumption or domestic consumption differ naturally in the diameter of the pipes and the design) the higher the weight of the impeeler..

So changing the meter can have the advantage that the smaller impeeler inserted has less weight and a reduced "after run" so your consumption bill is more accurate than before.

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#24
In reply to #23

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/24/2012 2:09 AM

Pardon the pun, but you're all wet.

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#28
In reply to #23

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/24/2012 7:49 AM

Thanks. It is good that there are two sides to the water meter issue.

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#6

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/23/2012 2:23 PM

You can request any size you want, as long as you pay for the permits and meet the criteria...Selling water and electricity are "for profit" businesses...The only restrictions for water have to do with outdoor usage, and they are quite liberal....There are no restrictions on electrical usage, other than installed capacity...

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/23/2012 2:32 PM

I am happy with what I currently have. I just don't want to be unhappy when they "don't change anything".

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#8
In reply to #7

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/23/2012 2:45 PM

Do you really think the electric company wants to restrict your usage of the product they sell for profit? That wouldn't be much of a business model would it?

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#11
In reply to #8

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/23/2012 2:57 PM

I don't know if you ever saw the video of the lady who was with a group of protesters out in California that were protesting about power plants and how unsightly and bad for the environment there where and they wanted them shut down.

The interviewer asked her, "If they shut down the power plants then where will you get your electricity from?"

She bluntly stated. "From the same place I always have. The plug in on my wall."

I think the video is or was on U-tube a year or two ago.

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#13
In reply to #8

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/23/2012 3:59 PM

Q1: YES

Q2: They are a utility without competition. Continuing to make big profits without too much new capital investment seems to be their business model.

They give rebates if you buy more efficient water heaters, air conditioners or other major items. They (their "partners") do duct inspections to make sure you are not wasting energy. There are programs to insulate your house. This is all against your suggestion of a business model that makes sense.

My best guess is that they want to continue making big profits without having to invest in new sub stations, larger capacity transmission lines and additional power generation plants. Their regulated charges probably make growth through capital investment less profitable than continuing to make money with their current level of capital investment. If I turn on an arc welder then that reduces their ability to profit from another new house on the same power grid.

If 80A full scale (or whatever) are cheaper for them to buy than a larger (possibly 200A full scale) meter then it is in their profit interest to install the smaller meters. They could then charge big bucks (purchase, install, impact fee, premium rates) for people with arc welders to get larger capacity meters installed. And all this could be "OK" if they have some fine print somewhere stating that if you didn't discuss your "special needs" with them before the smart meters were installed then the upgrade is the consumer's responsibility.

An example of my concern was a burned out transformer that was changed on the pole a few years ago. The workers were going to replace it with a smaller transformer since "we didn't need" a transformer that size. It was only due to pressure from me that we didn't have a reduction in our maximum service.

So far I'm happy that the responses are:
* SAME MAX SERVICE: yes
* SAME RATE STRUCTURE: No. They will use rates to try to level out usage and therefore they will get the maximum return from their current capital investment. Sooner or later it will cost more for me to cook, run the air conditioner or weld during the day.

Bruce

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#17
In reply to #13

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/23/2012 9:27 PM

How can you say they have no competition, you are free to generate your own electricity, it's not exactly rocket science....Good luck even coming close to generating your own electricity for what they charge...You just don't want to admit it's a bargain, it's cheap...and so is the water....

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#10

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/23/2012 2:56 PM

Hi Bruce,

We had these installed last year. They only swapped the meter out, nothing else.

Like you, my household has high weekend usage. I have not detected any changes in available power.

The claim was that these new meters would save the customers money on their monthly bill due to labor savings of not having to have each meter read on site every month.

Funny thing is that my utility never sent anyone out to read the meters. My Utility would send out a monthly post card sized notice for the customer to mark the dial indicator positions and then for each customer to call that information into the automated billing department every month.

6 months after the swap, our bill as well as our neighbors bills saw a new $18 "Facility Use" charge. When I questioned the utility about the added charge, the nice lady that answered the phone stated that charge was to cover the cost of the purchase and installation of the new "Smart Meters" but the nice lady did reassure me that we were in fact saving money by not having the meters read individually any more.

I am sure our electric utility has the best interest of the customers at heart and are charging a "fair" price for electric service because that is what their daily commercials on TV and radio state and I believe them, honest

Regards - KJK

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#12
In reply to #10

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/23/2012 3:07 PM

Seem like we might be on the same page on this one.

Bruce

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#14

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/23/2012 6:09 PM

you MAY find that your measured usage goes up if you have a lot of devices that have poor power factor. (such as your arc welder for instance.). older mechanical meters would integrate and average that out a bit, but the new electronic ones don't do that and read true power usage (which your old meter really didn't). so don't be surprised if your next bill is much higher.

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#15

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/23/2012 8:01 PM

I upgraded my service from 100A to 200A a little more than a year ago. The power company gave me a new meter when they did. It was interesting to note that they didn't upgrade the wires from the pole to the transformer (looks like 2 AWG), only the leads from the pole to my meter socket (at least 2/0). The electrician that I hired to do the work explained that the utility has its own rules (NEC? What's that?) Oh well, their I2R loss...

My kWH usage has gone down since the change. Unfortunately, I can't tell whether it's been because I now have two kids out of the house or if it's because of the change in service.

They also keep hounding me to install their 'smart' switch that they'll attach to my air conditioner circuit. (They don't even need to come into the house!) This is to turn off the AC during peak hours to reduce load. Won't work for me though, I still use window units.

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#16
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Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/23/2012 8:28 PM

Two kids out of the house, for sure! Did you have to ask?

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#18

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/23/2012 10:07 PM

The "electricity is like water" analog is flawed in just this way. With water, it's fairly easy to restrict flow, all you need do is install a smaller orifice. The only way they could "restrict flow" of electricity would be to install some sort of current limiting device, such as a resistor or satuarble reactor. No way a utility is going to go to that expense. And for what purpose? They don't want to restrict your use, but they do want to charge more for it if they can.

That's what is really behind these smart meters, it's called TOU Billing, TOU is Time Of Use. What's coming for you is what we are already seeing here in power hungry California, your electricity rate varies by time of day. If you want to run your AC in the middle of the week day when nobody is home, be prepared to pay upwards of 35 cents/kWH! The reason is that during the work day, they can sell more electricity to their industrial customers. Not at a higher rate, but they can sell more of it and more consistently. They like that, it costs them less to deliver it and many large industrials maintain their own equipment, so less maintenance cost for the utility. But if everyone is running their AC when nobody is home, the utility has to add infrastructure to service their better customers. Then because of NIMBYs, they have to spend a LOT more to do that than it's worth. So for them, forcing you to stop wasting power provides them a benefit of what is called an "Avoided Cost of Delivery". It's the exact same concept behind rebates for energy savings. More power available to sell to good customers by reducing the power that they have to provide residential users, whom they consider a nuisance quite frankly because they are required to do it at unprofitable rates.

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#29
In reply to #18

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/24/2012 8:00 AM

"Avoided Cost Of Delivery" is a nice term for what I and several others referred to.

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#37
In reply to #18

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/24/2012 3:37 PM

I never liked that comparison either...electrons don't "move" faster due to increased potential.

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#19

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/23/2012 10:31 PM

I pay an extra monthly charge to my electric company for the "privilege" of NOT having a smart meter. I have too many electronics that could possible interfere or get interfered with to take the chance that the electric company might do something right.

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#20

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/23/2012 11:05 PM

Smart meters - oh so scary! They may actually read how much power we really use & need to pay for. They could actual give us a bill that makes us review how much we use & change our habits to reduce the power comsumption & then the bill.

The meter is called a smart meter because they can see what it is doing - it is only a meter with a few extra gizmos that your old meter did not have. It does the same thing as the old one, just more accurately & gathers more data.

What will they fit - they are not going to fit a small meter that suddenly becomes the fuse to your house & stops you using your tools - wake up they need to fit one that suits the load and the cable sizes already there. Why would they spend a lot of money changing all your wiring when they do not have too.

If you are that worried maybe you need to disconnect from the grid and set up your own power station in the back yard but oh - you need a licence & environmental impact.... - got you again - nowhere to run!

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#21

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/23/2012 11:38 PM

They have a curious business model. The medium voltage distribution is a true 3 wire / 3phase. The tap to your pole transformer is a single wire, with the other side the primary is grounded right at the pole. I2R losses anyone for the return to the high/medium level transformer?

Then the secondary gives you left and right (180 degrees out of phase), the center point is grounded at the pole. Your service entrance is grounded right at it. So the ground return is really thru the ground. I2R losses anyone?

I observed this weird, antiquated arrangement in every state I visited. It leads to obscene losses. But who cares? The customer pays for it anyhow!

If this description strikes you as off-the wall, go out and check it out with your eyes before commenting, I would suggest.

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#35
In reply to #21

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/24/2012 10:57 AM

I agree that the US model is less efficient than that used in other places...but the "return" path is still the grounded conductor...the neutral. The neutral is continuous from the "pole" to the house.

Earth is not used as the intended return path. That is specifically against IEEE and NEC.

Earth is used as a fault path for the home...that is what causes the breakers to trip (if your bond is in place at your service, that is).

The same goes for the grid...the pole neutral/grounded conductor/earth bond.

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#22

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/24/2012 1:35 AM

Sounds to me like "the lady" is not the only one challenged in this discussion.

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#26

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/24/2012 7:39 AM

Hi BF,

"at times we experience pressure changes"

does it happen during peak consumption only or even when the water flow is lower?

brgds

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#31
In reply to #26

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/24/2012 9:52 AM

The water utility references were just to illustrate the point that utilities (and big companies, and managers and parents and ....) will sometimes make decisions that are in their best interest and not necessarily in the best interest of the people that they have power over.

My water utility reference now has a new problem with it due to the valid and interesting points that uli_newBuilder made in posting #23.

My Pressure Changes: (not really the prime topic of this posting) It seems that when water is being used in the kitchen and water is being used in the clothes washer and water is being used in the shower (all at the same time) that a flushing toilet causes a bigger pressure change than it used to.

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#32

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/24/2012 10:18 AM

My concern with "smart" meters is the possibility of alerting burglars to an empty house. The "smart" meter is a wireless device...transmissions can be intercepted. It would not be too hard to determine when a house occupant leaves based on electrical usage. As most of us go, when we depart the household we turn off electrical devices. Usage way down...occupants are probally not home.

Paranoia...no...but....

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#33
In reply to #32

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/24/2012 10:32 AM

it is my understanding that they communicate via the power line.

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#44
In reply to #33

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/25/2012 7:56 AM

Pepco has installed smart meters to all of their customers in Delaware. They also installed a wireless network system to read the meters. When you consider the signal coverage this was no small feat. If you drive through the state, you will see wireless access points and repeaters throughout. Their intent was to eliminate meter readers, to improve location of faults and fault repairs, to provide customers with detailed usage info and (ahem) to comply with state efficiency requirements.

I have heard no complaints from anyone that I know that lives there. For the most part, I think the installation went seamlessly. It was completed early in 2011 so I'm assuming they've had time to hash out the bugs, etc. While I think simple is usually the best way to go, I personally think smart meters are way cool gadgets. If Pepco was willing to spend the pennies to install them and set them up, there's got to be some return on their investment. It would be silly to spend beau-coup bucks on the system if there wasn't. In the end I don't think the customers will suffer.

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#38

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/24/2012 4:04 PM

Bruce

I think you may be speaking of load shedding. There was a time that my utility was considering contracting with residential customers to allow the utility to drop some of the customers during peak loading conditions. There was a radio receiver installed on the customes A/C unit that would cut off the A/C for a limited time, say 30 minutes, so the utility could get by a critical loading period. The customer usually would not even know the unit was off. The customer receive a small credit on their bill for allowing the utility to do this. I don't think this has actually been do yet. Seemed like a good idea.

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#39
In reply to #38

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/24/2012 4:32 PM

They tried that in San Diego with the participants receiving a minimal reward at the end of the summer. What was promised was the condensing unit being shut down for short periods of time, and the customers would barely notice a change in temperature. A small device was installed on the condensing unit to turn off the power remotely during peak periods. However, that wasn't actuality in most cases. The condensing units were being turned off for extended periods of time, and the resident had to bare the brunt of the heat. Another incentive program that I'm thankful I didn't enroll in!!

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#40
In reply to #38

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/24/2012 4:34 PM

Yeah before deregulation, reliant was doing that here in Houston too. But that is one of the plans in the works for smartmeters. funny thing, last year when we were experiencing "rolling blackouts" it was only people with smart meters that were "blacked out". people with conventional meters stayed online. Funny how that worked out isn't it?

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#45
In reply to #40

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/26/2012 12:02 AM

So install a backup generator, what's the big deal...

http://www.amazon.com/Generac-CorePower-5837-Air-Cooled-Generator/dp/B003XQWYW0

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#46

Re: New Smart Meters For Residential Power

04/30/2012 4:20 AM

Smart Meters's Technology have been introduced for these basic purposes.

1. For the Supplier to be aware of the electricity or water usage values at any time, so as to control the grid. eg 50 houses in one DC/Unit - knowing how much is consumed collectively at a specific time.

2(a).For the client to know how much he/she is consuming at a specific time, thus having full knowledge and control (with timers installed on loads) of how much is being consumed.

2(b).The client can view the consumption,load variations at any time, meaning there would be transparency to the client for the load consumed.

So, I would say Smart Meters should come on board, nice technology that offers peace of mind.

example: Cellphone Technology.

These are not the only purpose for Smart Meters...

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