ComEd will begin implementing a new smart meter project In Glenview in just a few weeks and will continue for another eight months until all 17,000 meters have been replaced within the Village. There is no charge to customers for the replacement. The project plan was laid out to the Village Board of Trustees at its regular March 17 meeting and delivered by ComEd’s VP of Advanced Metering Infrastructure Implementation Mike McMahan.
The new meter is completely digital, revolutionizing the way electric service readings are captured. No longer will a ComEd representative have to come to your home on a regular basis to gather data; instead the smart meters have small computer chips and two radio dials that communicate with ComEd on a daily basis and can also communicate with the customer when enabled.
There are several advantages to this new system. First is the fact that customers will now be able to view their usage in real time. Because ComEd will retrieve hourly reports from the digital meters, customers can log on to the company’s website and access their account to see current readings and adjust as necessary to better control monthly bills. Second is the capability for automatic outage protection, so when storms hit and power goes out, ComEd will automatically be alerted to service interruptions. Furthermore this regional network allows ComEd to ping meters remotely to stay on top of where services continue to be delayed and can then focus more crews on the most vulnerable areas. This also helps to prevent theft and will “save all customers in the long run,” said McMahan.
He also discussed the concerns some customers have voiced about the new digital system and the technology behind it. Data privacy was one issue, although McMahan said ComEd will not sell information to third parties. Related to that were concerns about cyber security.
“We specifically chose our communications vendor, Silver Springs, because of the security features they offer,” said McMahan. “We have gone as far as to hire people to try and hack into our system and any vulnerabilities they exposed were closed.” If a hacker was able to retrieve any information it would only be the serial number of the meter and the kilowatt usage as no personal data is encrypted in the feed.
The third concern was related to health effects since the upgraded system is completely wireless. The signal, said McMahan, registers about 900Mhz, about the same amount as a baby monitor or garage door opener and less than a smartphone. Any exposure to waves would also be limited to less than five minutes per day.
All customers will be notified of the meter replacement plan through a variety of communications from ComEd, including bill inserts, postcards, letters, robo calls and one-on-one interactions on the day of service. The company Corex is the only approved vendor for installation, said McMahan. It is not authorized to ask for money or personal information or to come into your home unless the meter is located inside. All personnel will have badges of authenticity if a homeowner is concerned.