Smart Meters FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions
Installation: When, Where & How
If you haven’t already received an equipment upgrade at your home or business, you can expect installation sometime before the end of 2012.
Whether installation occurs at your home or business, you can expect a smooth transition. We will install meters (Mondays – Saturday, 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m). You should be able to recognize authorized workers by their uniforms and trucks, but you do not need to be present for the meter installation as long the old meter is accessible. We will leave confirmation that meter installation was successful.
Meter installation only takes five to ten minutes, often with less than a minute of electrical service interruption. For larger commercial installations, there is typically no service interruption. You will, however, need to reset any digital clocks on your appliances and electronics. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
If you operate life support medical equipment at your home or business, please call us at 1-800-973-2356.
If we are unable to access the existing meter, we’ll leave you information so you can reschedule.
If you have questions about Edison SmartConnect meter installation, please call us at 1-877-407-2317.
There will be no noticeable change to your service, except that we will be able to measure your monthly energy usage remotely, rather than by visiting your property. In the months following installation, new programs and services become available to customers with smart meters.
Smart Meters for Solar & Wind: NEM Accounts
Yes. We are currently installing smart meters for NEM customers (i.e. solar, wind, etc.) that lie within our deployment path, now that we have implemented and fully tested the system that supports NEM accounts and rates. We will revisit NEM accounts that were passed over initially and perform installation on a district-by-district basis.
If you already have a smart meter installed when you choose to switch to an alternative power source such as solar, we will be able to re-program the meter to make your account compatible.
As a residential customer, you may exercise the opt-out alternative by calling us at 1-800-810-2369.
Yes, the opt-out option is available to all of our residential customers. Our residential customers are limited to opt out at the same residence once every 12 months.
No. Tampering with electric meters or equipment used by the utility to deliver or measure electricity use is dangerous and, in many cases, illegal. To ensure the safety of our customers and employees, we strongly discourage any tampering with electrical equipment, including a meter or an electrical panel. For additional questions about meter safety or other electrical safety information, visit sce.com/safety or call us at 1-800-655-4555.
An Easy Read: Your Meter & Usage Reports
Yes. Once the smart meter is installed, you can read the meter through one of the rotating digital screen displays. Look for the screen that displays "001" in the upper left-hand corner. It should appear approximately every 10 seconds. Each time you use a kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity, the meter screen display will increase by one. The more electricity you use, the faster the number increases. The digital display represents a cumulative read, much like a car's odometer.
In the months after the meter is installed, you will be able to see online usage reports as recent as the previous day. Residential customers will see usage in hourly increments; business customers will see usage in 15-minute increments. You can monitor your energy use online in My Account.
The Edison SmartConnect NEM meter cycles through four five-second screen displays; each screen stays visible for approximately five seconds. The first screen displays your energy consumption, and can be identified by the number “001” in the upper left-hand corner. The fourth screen is unique to NEM and displays your energy generation, or energy consumption. You can identify this fourth screen by the number “071” in the upper left corner.
You can think of these readouts (“001” and “071”) as working similar to a balance sheet. The sum of the readouts on each screen depends on how much energy is consumed versus how much is generated. For example, if a customer’s usage averages 20 kilowatt hours consumed in a day versus 15 kilowatt hours generated during that same day, the readout would show 5 kilowatt hours consumed and 0 kilowatt hours generated for that day.
Precisely! Meter & Bill Accuracy & Reliability
Our rigorous meter quality-control program includes testing by the manufacturer and by our team, as well as testing in the field, to ensure that our smart meters are safe, accurate and working properly.
The new meter is highly accurate. Just like the old electrical meters, smart meters measure energy use. We have teams in place to monitor smart meter performance, respond to customer inquiries and ensure accurate meter reads for billing. Smart meters also enable new programs and tools that will help you manage your energy use in ways that could actually benefit your budget.
The Big Picture: Program Components & Costs
The Edison SmartConnect system is primarily two components: the digital smart meter and the communications system—a two-way system that communicates electricity use from your home or business to the utility and back from the utility to your home or business, enabling you to see detailed energy usage reports. The Edison SmartConnect meters are among the most advanced in the industry and have become the standard for many smart meter programs in other states and internationally.
Edison SmartConnect is a $1.6 billion program authorized by the CPUC. The program is funded by an approximate 1.6 percent increase in customer rates during the installation timeframe; however, you can actively use new smart meter programs and tools designed to help you better manage your electricity use to offset the cost. This slight rate increase is not applied as a line item to your bill; rather, it will be incorporated into the overall electricity rate.
As installations progress throughout our service territory, meter reader positions will be reduced and eventually eliminated. Working with impacted employees has been one of our primary focuses. We are working with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) union, the union that represents many of our employees, to help impacted employees prepare for upcoming job changes and potential transitions to new positions.
Personal Protections: Privacy & Security
Smart meters transmit only two types of information to us: the amount of electricity you use and when you use it. We use this information to ensure that your monthly bill is accurate and to manage and optimize the electricity grid that serves our region.
Your privacy is important to us, and your energy usage data will never be shared without your permission or request. We maintain strict confidentiality and privacy policies and use state-of-the-art technology to safeguard your information.
Security protocols for Edison SmartConnect are adapted from the banking and defense sectors in order to ensure the highest levels of security and privacy. All information transmitted between meters and the utility is encrypted using U.S. government-approved and recommended standards, and we work with federal and state agencies to stay ahead of cyber threats.
Radio Frequency Energy
Our smart meters communicate using low-power radio frequency (RF) energy that is similar or weaker in strength than that created by devices such as mobile phones.
RF energy is another term for electromagnetic fields, radio waves or wireless signals. A person’s exposure to RF signals depends on three factors: signal strength, distance from the device, and transmission frequency. The Edison SmartConnect meter transmits only a few minutes each hour at an extremely low level of signal strength, comparable to other home devices. This already low signal diminishes greatly by distance. For example, when standing one foot from the meter, the strength is less than 3 percent of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) allowable exposure limit. This percentage decreases at 3 feet to .267 percent and to .009 percent right behind the wall where the meter is installed. These exposure percentages are lower than or similar to those of other household devices such as cordless phones or wireless baby monitors.
According to the FCC, radio signals may be harmful when humans are exposed to very high levels of RF energy. High levels of RF energy are only found very close to antennas transmitting hundreds of thousands of watts, such as television and FM radio stations and radar antenna stations.
Yes. Limits on wireless and RF energy exposures have been recommended by international and national health authorities such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In the U.S., the FCC developed science-based safety guidelines through guidance and recommendations from the National Council on Radiation Protection (NCRP), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The FCC's safety guidelines include a safety factor of 50—meaning 50 times lower than the power levels that could cause harm to the human body—for the general population limits. These guidelines serve to protect the general population from overexposure to RF energy.
Our meters emit only a fraction of the power limits identified in the FCC guidelines for safe RF exposure. The FCC developed these science-based safety guidelines in consultation with scientists, health and engineering experts and organizations like NCRP, IEEE, and ANSI.
The low-power design of Edison SmartConnect meters greatly reduces the probability of interference with other wireless devices. Our meter has passed FCC-required non-interference tests performed at a certified third party test laboratory and is not expected to cause harmful interference to other wireless or electronic systems. There are a number of existing everyday environmental sources that produce much stronger RF fields than those of our smart metering system. If these existing sources are not causing interference, it is highly unlikely that the relatively weak fields produced by the Edison SmartConnect meter would interfere with the operation of a medical device.
Want more information on the lower frequency electric and magnetic fields (EMF) created by appliances and power lines? Learn more>
For those interested in additional resources on radio frequency energy information and health effects, we’ve also provided additional fact sheets, studies and resources here.