In a few days, ConEdison will start switching out all the electrical meters on Brooklyn buildings, replacing the old meters with new “Smart Meters” that will provide real-time energy usage data to ConEd, updated every 15 minutes.
The new units will be installed at no cost to customers, who will benefit from more accurate reporting of their energy consumption, and no more estimated bills when snowstorms prevent meter readers from making their rounds.
Commerical locations will have no choice but to adopt the new program, but residential clients may choose to opt out—for a price. Customers that still want their old meters will be charged $9.50 each month, a fee that goes towards keeping a meter-reader on their route.
A spokesperson for ConEdison made assurances that as the role of meter-reader was eliminated, no jobs would be lost. Those making the rounds for the utility company will be folded into other jobs in the company, and able to continue with field-work positions until the right opportunity becomes available.
Installation of Smart Meters will start next week in Brooklyn and continue through December of 2021. Working from 7 am – 8 pm Monday through Saturday, a contractor for ConEd, Aclara Smart Grid Solutions, will dispatch trained employees to effect the installations. Outdoor, accessible meters will be replaced automatically, while those requiring access will be handled with the resident’s permission.
The new meters look basically the same as the old ones and installation will be a straightforward case of switching out the two units. Residents will be alerted about the upcoming installation with a postcard, then a letter from ConEd. The installation will require about 15 minutes without power, so anyone with life-support equipment should alert ConEd so arrangements can be made.
As always, new technology is an opportunity for scammers to defraud the public, so a ConEd spokesman warned against fraudulent bills that may tell customers they’re being charged for the meters—they’re free! An as always, if ConEd employees are required to enter any customer’s homes, they can provide their names and employee numbers for verification at 1-800-75-CONED.
Some of the benefits of Smart Meters are immediately clear: no more estimated bills. But ConEd will no provide even more specific breakdowns of energy use due to the 15 minute update increment. In a new online portal, customers will be able to track their usage by month, week, or even hourly throughout the day.
Also, the new system will allow customers moving in to a new apartment or house to have their power turned on immediately and remotely. The converse is true for shutting off power, of course, but a ConEd spokesperson said that the current system of due process for past-due bills—warnings, payment plans, etc.—will stay in place.
In a time when data sharing and privacy is at the forefront of many discussions, ConEd has explicitly stated that energy use data will be sent only over their secure network and not sold to advertisers. Additionally, SmartMeters will only collect raw energy use data, not specific breakdowns of what kind of appliances residents use!
Of course, anyone willing to shoulder the cost of opting out is able to do so here. Of course, if you’re vehemently opposed to the idea, don’t delay—once smart meters are installed, it’ll cost you nearly $105 to get them removed!