Q: What is an upgraded meter? A: An upgraded meter is technology in the form of a digital meter with communication capabilities. We use the cellular telephone network to read meters remotely, once each day. The cellular device within the meter enables two-way communication to gather total energy consumption and send it back to us. This usage information is in no way allowing us to determine how much energy individual appliances within a home are using.
Q: Do upgraded meters cause high bills? A: No. The upgraded meters are tested for accuracy by our meter vendor. High bills are typically caused by: weather related consumption, past due balances, billing span day variances, budget plan adjustments or catch-up bills from estimates.
If you’ve noticed that your bill seems higher than previous months, consider the following:
What’s the temperature setting on your thermostat?
Is it programmed to turn down when you’re not home?
Do you have electric or natural gas heat?
When was the last time that your air filter had been changed?
Is the fan set to auto or on?
Are you using a space heater?
Have you added anything new to your home since this time last winter?
Expanded the size of the house?
Additional people in the home or people home more frequently during the day?
Is your home well insulated? When you stand near your doors and/or windows, do you feel cold air coming in?
Q: What if I don't want a smart meter on my home? A: As of December 2017, majority of the installations have been completed. If you’d like to opt out after your meter has been upgraded, there is a one-time fee of $123.91 (if notified prior of installation, the one-time fee is $69.39) and a $9.72/month charge after that to cover the manual meter read. For more information or to opt-out, please call 888-862-2199.
Q: I've heard that there is concern about radiofrequency (RF) exposure. Where does Consumers Energy stand? A: We take concerns about your health seriously. Scientific and medical evidence to date suggests that exposure to RF fields does not cause adverse health effects provided that exposure is within safety guidelines. The United States government and the international health community - including the World Health Organization and numerous independent studies - have deemed low-level radio frequency to be entirely safe. Consumers Energy’s smart meter program has been approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission ("MPSC").
Q: What do upgraded meters mean for you? A: Upgraded meters mean:
Improved Outage Response: The upgraded meters present improved power outage detection which may reduce outage time. In the future, the sensors along the lines of distribution on the smart grid will enable us to locate and determine the cause of the outage, often even before you report the outage. In addition, we’ll have the ability to re-route your electricity around the faulty power lines, to restore your power more quickly. This means greater reliability and service quality.
Accurate Billing: Because your daily energy use is sent to us, upgraded meters will virtually eliminate estimated bills. The upgraded meters will also eliminate surprise energy bills at the end of the month because you will have the ability to go online and monitor your accruing bill throughout the month. You can track your daily energy use online.
Pay As You Go: Our payment option that lets you pay ahead for your energy use.
Switch Your Rate: Rate options that allow you to save money by reducing your energy use when demand is highest and energy is most expensive.
Q: Why is Consumers Energy investing in a smarter energy future? A: We work to improve our customer service and energy service reliability. Smart Energy is part of the company's 'Promise to Michigan'. Smart Energy technologies, including upgraded meter technology - upgraded meters - are key to serving our neighbors better.
Q: What are in-home privacy and related issues surrounding upgraded meters? A: In addition to your health, in-home privacy is taken seriously. Consumers Energy has a dedicated team that is committed to keeping you and your privacy safe. Data privacy concerns are comparable to cell phone use and corresponding data. Similar to how your cell phone provider sends a bill that monitors when you used your minutes, we’ll be able to send you information regarding when you use your energy. Sign up to receive outage and billing alerts.
Data collected from all of Consumers Energy's meters is subject to stringent data-privacy protections.
Consumers Energy complies with the best security practices. Similar to protecting a computer from viruses with firewalls, we will protect customers using security features. The meters and associated communications system are encrypted and equipped with security features to prevent unauthorized access.
Q:What is the Smart Grid? A: The smart grid is the modernized electrical grid. Utilizing digital technology, supply and demand of electricity can be better managed to enhance system reliability and efficiency.
What If I Don't Want an Upgraded Meter?
If you decide not to have a new meter installed, call 888-862-2199 to be enrolled in the Non-Transmitting Meter Program.
Initial Charge: $69.39, one-time charge if notice is given prior to meter install or $123.91 if notice is given after the meter is installed.
Monthly Charge: $9.72/month for service.
The Truth About Meters
Myth 1 – The meters pose a potential health risk.
Fact 1 – The radio frequencies used to transmit data are the equivalent of one text message a day. The appropriate federal health and safety regulations provide assurance that the meters represent a safe technology. The frequency emissions are well below guidelines set by the Federal Communications Commission.
Myth 2 – My personal data is at risk with a meter.
Fact 2 – The meter contains no customer information, only use and operational status. All information transmitted to/from the meter is protected by a private, secure network. Customer information is matched to meter information within Consumers Energy, allowing for direct communication to only occur between the meter and Consumers Energy network.
Myth 3 – The meter will track and shut off specific devices within my home.
Fact 3 – The meters do not identify specific electronic devices and cannot turn off appliances at will. In the future, customers will be able to leverage customer programs that allow them to track their energy use, if they choose to participate.
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