Smart Meter FAQs
1. What are Time of Use Rates?
2. When will I begin paying time of use rates?
3. Is there a cost to the customer for the SMART METER?
4. Will I see lower electricity bills?
5. Will someone still come to read my meter?
6. How can I read this new SMART METER?
7. Is my usage information secure and will it remain confidential?
8. Will I receive a SMART METER if I am currently with or moving to a Retailer? Will I pay time-of-use-rates?
9. Is it mandatory that I have a SMART METER installed?
10. Will Smart Metering cost me or save me money?
11. How do smart meters operate?
12. How long and often do smart meters actively transmit and at what power?
13. Do smart meters operate in a manner compatible with human health and safety?
14. How do smart meter RF exposures compare to other household electronic devices?
15. How can I find out more about Health Canada RF emission guidelines?
16. How can I find further reference material related to smart meters and health impacts?
Smart Meter FAQ Answers
Q: What are Time Of Use Rates?
A: Time Of Use rates mean that you pay a different amount for electricity depending on when it is used. There are three categories, On-Peak, Off-Peak and Mid-Peak. For more information on current rates and times, see http://www.ontarioenergyboard.ca
Q: When will I begin paying time of use rates?
A: We will be introducing Time Of Use Rates to our customers starting in June 2011 and continuing until Oct 2011
Q: Is there a cost to the customer for the SMART METER?
A:The cost of the Smart Meter initiative will be recovered through the electricity rates paid by all customers in the same way the costs for existing meters and services are recovered today
Q: Will I see lower electricity bills?
A: With time-of-use-rates, you’ll see the results of your conservation efforts and you’ll save money if you shift your heaviest electricity use to off-peak hours
Q: Will someone still come to read my meter?
A: Yes, for the next couple of months. Ensuring you continue to receive timely and accurate billing is of primary importance. Once all systems are fully operational, we will then be able to rely fully on the SMART METER system to handle everything and discontinue manual meter reading
Q: How can I read this new SMART METER?
A: The SMART METER displays your kWh reading in a digital format, it will cycle through to kWh.
Q: Is my usage information secure and will it remain confidential?
A: Yes. Ontario’s electricity distribution companies are required, by law, to ensure the SMART METERS and communication networks that are put into place are equipped with security features to prevent unauthorized access to personal information. Any data that is sent to the central data repository will be provided in such a way as to prevent identification of an individual customer
Q: Will I receive a SMART METER if I am currently with or moving to a Retailer? Will I pay time-of-use-rates?
A: Yes, you will receive a SMART METER, but your rates will be determined by the terms and conditions of the contract you choose to sign.
Q: Is it mandatory that I have a SMART METER installed?
A: Yes, SMART METERS are a critical component of our commitment to create a lasting “conservation culture”. The provincial government intends to have SMART METERS installed in every home and small business in Ontario by the end of 2010.
Q: Will Smart Metering cost me or save me money?
A: SMART METERS will make it possible to measure when electricity is used and different prices apply at different times of the day. With time-of-use (TOU) pricing, you will have a new way to manage your electricity use and your bills. SMART METERS will help Ontario meet its energy needs. Between now and 2025, Ontario must build a whole new electricity system which includes replacing about 80% of our current generating facilities and expanding the system for future growth. Conservation will help us to make the best use of our existing electricity resources and slow the growth in our demand. SMART METERS will encourage us all to think more about how and when we use electricity
Q: How do smart meters operate?
A: Smart meters are electronic devices used by utility companies to remotely collect information for billing and operational purposes. Smart meters, including those installed by Kingston Hydro, make use of low power radio-frequency (RF) transmitters to wirelessly communicate meter readings
Q: How long and often do smart meters actively transmit and at what power?
A: During the smart metering system’s normal operation, the low power transmitter located within the electric meter actively transmits for very brief periods, each individual transmission milliseconds long in duration. A typical Sensus smart meter, the type installed by Kingston Hydro, operates at 1.6 Watts of power, and transmits less than one second per day. The majority of smart meters transmit for less than one minute per day. For further information about Sensus meters, visit the Sensus website [www.sensus.com]
Q: Do smart meters operate in a manner compatible with human health and safety?
A: Significant efforts have been taken to ensure that smart meters will not only help households manage their electricity consumption, but that they are also safe and reliable. The Ontario government has established a regulation to outline the minimum standards for the smart meter system also referred to as the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). In this regulation, requirements have been included to ensure safety laws applicable to metering, safety and telecommunications are adhered to. As such, smart meters are well within the safety guidelines for exposure to radio frequencies (RF) established by Health Canada in Safety Code 6 (2009).
Smart meters operate at a low power, intermittently, and in the RF portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. The endpoint transmitter in a Kingston Hydro smart meter operates at 901 MHz frequency and transmits at 1.6 Watts of power. A person’s actual RF exposure from the smart meter is a function of the signal strength which diminishes rapidly with distance, and with the amount of daily exposure. Smart meter exposures even at close range with continuous operation (an unrealistic condition due to power supply and signal processing limitations) yield tiny exposures and are compliant with Health Canada exposure guidelines.
Further, the maximum exposure levels of Health Canada’s Safety Code 6 are in line with international safety practice, ie. Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), United Kingdom’s Health Protection Agency (HPA), and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States.
Q: How do smart meter RF exposures compare to other household electronic devices?
A: For most people it is likely that smart meter RF exposure will be predominated by other electronic devices in the household that operate with similar frequency and power levels such as cell phones, computers, cordless phones, televisions, and wireless routers. This is as a result of 1) usage patterns; the smart meter’s infrequent signal transmission and 2) typical distance from the meter
Q: How can I find out more about Health Canada RF emission guidelines?
A: To find out more about Health Canada guidelines, visit the Health Canada website, www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Q: How can I find further reference material related to smart meters and health impacts?
Hydro One Networks:
California Science Council on Science and Technology:
Edison Electric Institute (EEI), Association of Edison Illuminating Companies (AEIC), Utilities Telecom Council (UTC):
B.C. Centre for Disease Control
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP)
University of Ottawa Wireless Communications and Health
US Federal Communications Commission
World Health Organization
Utilities Telecom Council
Electric Power Research Institute