Idaho Falls Power

Smart Grid FAQs


 

Are advanced meters accurate?

Yes, the meters are accurate more than 99.5 percent of the time, which is about the same rate as traditional meters. In addition, IFP will conduct regular tests to ensure accuracy.

Do advanced meters generate radio frequency (RF) fields?

Yes, they emit about a quarter of a watt, which is considerably less than the RF emissions of cell phones and wireless routers,baby monitors and microwave ovens, and far below exposure limits set by the Federal Communications Commission. The meters transmit radio signals just once every four hours, with each transmission lasting less than a second. The meters may transmit more often in certain situations, including outages, alerts about meter tampering, and voltage sags or swells, but they do not transmit continuously. No link has been found between the meters or RF exposure and human health, despite thousands of studies.

What makes a smart grid different from yesterday's grid?

Much of the electric grid was largely constructed in the 19th century and was designed to accomplish one task: to deliver power to homes and businesses. It's like a rotary phone in that regard. Little has changed since the grid was built. Even the billing method remains almost identical. Digital technology is changing that, transforming the grid from the rotary phone era to the smart phone era. Instead of waiting for your monthly bill to arrive -- by then it's too late to take action to use less energy and save money -- you can monitor your consumption in almost real-time, arming you with the information you need to lower your costs.

Are advanced meters safe from cyber attacks?

IFP has focused on security of its Smart Grid network from the start. We worked with industry leaders to select the most secure metering system available. It contains a number of cutting-edge security features, including a sophisticated monitoring process that alerts the utility is there is a security breach. The meters also regularly change the radio frequency used to communicate, making it virtually impossible to intercept data transmissions. In addition, each meter has its own security key; therefore, in the unlikely event that one meter was somehow compromised, the others would remain safe. Even if someone managed to infiltrate the system, the data is encrypted and would be undecipherable. And finally, no customer identifiers – name, address, account # - are included in the transmissions.

Why aren’t these meters UL listed?
Utility meters have never been UL listed (including the meters that have been in our system for 50 years) and this step is not required per federal guidelines. Metering guidelines are spelled out in the National Fire Protection Act, Section 70 (The National Electrical Code).
The state of Idaho and the city both adopted this code long ago.
Instead of UL listing, utility meters are required to adhere to the industry standard, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) C12.1. All IFP meters, new and old, meet these standards. IFP's meters have been tested and certified to these standards, as well as additional standards. (We can provide documentation of this testing upon request.)

Will my information be kept private?

Yes. No personal information is transmitted via the meters, and IFP is handling usage data as it has historically.

Will IFP use the meters to monitor customer behavior?

No. Advanced meters don't have this capability. They measure how much energy is used, not how it is used -- just like traditional meters. The new meters do not tell utilities who the customer is, what customers are doing or what appliances they are using.

Will the customer data generated by the meters be sold to outside parties or accessible to others?

No. Customer information is and always will be safe. IFP will not sell customer data generated by the advanced meters. This data is intended to help customers make choices that will lead to lower electric bills. IFP places the highest priority on the security of its customer account information. The utility will continue to work with industry experts, smart meter vendors, other utility companies and governmental agencies to refine security practices and standards to ensure that security remains at the highest level.

Will advanced meters lead to higher bills?

No. In fact, it is expected that power bills will decrease as customers become more informed about their energy usage.

Will Idaho Falls taxpayers be forced to pick up the tab for this program?

No, the utility's capital plan has already accounted for its costs associated with upgrading the meters. The deployment of the devices will also reduce expenses associated with meter reading and other utility call-outs. IFP expects the new system to pay for itself in less than five years.

Will the new meters enable IFP to control my appliances?

No, advanced meters do not have that capability; they merely measure energy use.

Will billing procedures be affected?

No, you'll still get your bill at the same time, and the billing method won't change.

Will my bill go up because of the new meter?

No. Your monthly bill will continue to reflect the normal fluctuations in your energy use.

Have the new meters been tested?

Yes. Both we and the manufacturers have extensively tested the new meters for accuracy and safety.

Will the new meter cost me anything?

No. The new meters will not cost you anything. In fact, we expect the meters to provide efficiencies that will actually help us save money and maintain electric rates that are among the lowest in the nation.

Will the new meter interfere with my home electronics?

No. The new meters are designed not to interfere with your home electronics.

How do I read the new meter?

The new meters utilize a six-digit LCD screen with three displays that change every five seconds.

The first screen displays data associated with your electricity use. This display will show a “zero” when the meter is installed and will grow throughout the billing cycle. An arrow at the bottom of the display indicates the rate at which you’re using energy – the faster the arrow flashes, the higher the rate of consumption.

The second screen displays the meter’s location in IFP’s wireless communication network. This is intended for utility personnel.

The third display serves as a test of the LCD screen.

 

 


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