Georgia Power: putting customer convenience and utility last! Let’s compare how Georgia Power is “selling” its smart meters to how one of the leaders in smart metering in Europe does it. Let’s compare Finland to Georgia Power. The result may give you reason to vote in the Public Service Commissioner election going on right now.
Current Smart Meter customer benefits include:
With the Smart Meter program, your electric meter will be read remotely through communication towers. In the future, a number of new customer benefits will become available, including access to online energy usage information.
Future Smart Meter benefits include:
- Reading your meter and generating your bill without having a representative visit your property on a regular basis.
- Reducing the time needed to handle service orders, such as starting or stopping power.
- Remotely checking a meter to ensure it is working properly.
- Reducing the number of vehicles on the road resulting in less pollution and fuel saving because in-person meter readings are not required.
- Power outage notification — In the event of a power outage in your area, Smart Meters help us better manage power restoration.
- Accessing energy usage information online — view your hourly and daily usage.
- Offering innovative rate options that meet your lifestyle — better manage your energy usage and control your energy bill.
All of the immediate benefits are tailored for the power company, not the customer. Sure, you might like not having a Georgia Power employee on your property, but the real benefit is to Georgia Power in reducing costs. The direct benefits to the customer are all deferred to some unspecified time in the future.
Meanwhile, for Finland, Look at page 32 of this report: European Smart Metering Landscape Report, by Stephan Renner, Mihaela Albu, Henk van Elburg, Christoph Heinemann, Artur Łazicki, Lauri Penttinen, Francisco Puente, Hanne Sæle, smartregions.net, Vienna, February 2011,
There are some minimum functional requirements for the metering system defined by the regulator in Finland:
- Remotely readable hourly interval measurement data available next day to market actors including the customer;
- If requested by the customer, the DSO must deliver metering equipment that has standardised connection for real-time hourly based monitoring;
- Consumer must receive the data at the latest when the electricity seller receives it;
Remotely readable meters that have already been installed are allowed some exceptions regarding the minimum functional requirements.
- Meters are able to receive and execute load control commands, or forward the commands to devices that are able to limit the loads (i.e. two way communication), which mean in practise
- The customer makes a contract with seller for a load control at peak times when the electricity stock market price is high — the seller gives control command either directly to the meter (using mobile phone network) or through DSO;
- The customers orders from DSO a meter which forwards the load limiting commands to house automation control system (e.g. HVAC) which controls the system as it’s programmed;
- DSO data security in data transfer and storage properly managed;
- support for variable time-of-use (TOU) tariffs;
- Registering over 3 min outages;
- Starting 1 January 2012 settlement by hourly metered data is required for all customers that have meters capable to hourly metering.
See the difference? In Finland, the customer comes first. The power company has to supply the customer data at least as good as the utilities get, plus equipment to view it. The customer decides what the meter can do, and can watch it as it does it.
Meanwhile, all of Georgia Power forces “smart” meters on customers without the customer having any decision-making abilitiy or even being able to tell what’s going on. No wonder Georgia Power customers don’t like smart meters! Only a monopoly could get away with customer “marketing” like that.
There’s an election going on. It was the regulator in Finland that put the customer first. What does the regulator in Georgia, the Public Service Commission do? Apparently its Commissioners accept massive contributions from the regulated utilities and, perhaps not coincidentally, do massive amounts of things those same utilities want. What if we elected Commissioners who required the utilities to provide information and service to their customers?