FirstEnergy Is Switching To Smart Meters In Northeast Ohio: When Will You Get One And Your Electrical Energy Information Secure?
CLEVELAND, Ohio – FirstEnergy is in the middle of a three-year effort to install smart meters in parts of Ohio as part of a roughly $ 250 million effort to modernize its system. The company has partially completed its installations from Pennsylvania.
Akron-based FirstEnergy, which serves parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey, began installing smart meters in January 2020 and is expected to continue through December. 2022, said FirstEnergy spokesperson Will Singer.
Singer said smart meters work much like traditional meters; they always measure the amount of electricity used. But smart meters are meant to provide customers with more information, especially about the specific times of day when electricity is being used. It also enables remote meter readings, while virtually eliminating the need for meter readers to go door-to-door and take manual readings.
For example, if someone uses a lot of energy playing video games or cooking on an electric stove in the afternoon, customers can use their online account to see when they are using the most energy.
Singer noted that by the first half of 2023, smart meters should also indicate when a customer is off or out of service, which would provide the company with more information during an outage and could reduce the number. customer calls to the company. receives during electrical emergencies.
As the rollout of FirstEnergy’s smart meters continues, the company says some customers might have concerns or fears about potential health and privacy risks. Cleveland.com spoke to Singer about these concerns and what they can expect before installation.
When will I receive my smart meter and can I unsubscribe from the installation?
For FirstEnergy’s Ohio Edison service area, the company began installing smart meters in the Sandusky area in June 2020 and ended in February this year, according to its website. The company started its facilities in Kent in December and is expected to complete its facilities there by August.
For the service area of the Illuminating company, the installation of smart meters began in the Solon area last July and was completed in May. Installations at Mayfield Heights began last August and are scheduled to end in June. East Cleveland is scheduled to begin in November and end in February 2022.
Singer was unsure of when Cleveland customers who are not part of the Cleveland Public Power network could expect installations in their homes. The same is true for the communities of Summit County, Medina County, Lorain County and Lake County.
Customers should be notified about a month before installation with a brochure informing them of the process.
“They’ll get a letter, I believe, about two weeks or a few weeks in advance when this meter is installed,” Singer said. “And then on the day of installation, the meter attendant will knock on their door and let them know the exchange is taking place.”
If someone is not home when the installer comes, a door hanger will be left to inform the customer that the meter has been changed or to request an appointment to change the meter.
Customers who don’t want a smart meter will have to pay a fee. If someone has already installed a smart meter, they will have to pay $ 41.72 to replace it with a regular meter. They will also have to pay a monthly fee of $ 28.29 to have someone do a manual meter reading. But if someone disengages before installation, they will only pay the monthly meter reading fee.
Do smart meters pose health risks?
Modern meters eliminate the need for door-to-door readings by allowing FirstEnergy to capture the same data using radio frequency.
Singer said customers shouldn’t be concerned about smart meters posing health risks because the product’s maker and FirstEnergy rigorously test it to make sure it’s safe to use.
“The radio frequency emitted by the meters is similar to that of a garage door opener or baby monitor, so it’s not something that we think customers should be overly concerned about and want. are safe for everyday use, ”Singer said.
Should I be concerned about privacy?
The increase in phishing and ransomware attacks in recent weeks could worry owners about the data collected by FirstEnergy. The singer insists that the company is not following the whereabouts of the owners. For example, the smart meter cannot detect when someone is at home.
He also noted that FirstEnergy has implemented several security measures to ensure that customer information is not released to third parties.
“We have invested a lot of resources to make sure the network is secure and that none of the customer’s information is at risk,” Singer said.
FirstEnergy has also worked to dispel some myths, correcting some misconceptions about its security and privacy. fact sheet. For example, one of the myths is that the smart meter is a monitoring device. The smart meter does not know what devices or equipment are used in a home or business.
Another myth discussed in the fact sheet is the perception that the meter will control household appliances or limit unauthorized use. The company wrote on the fact sheet that this is not the case. Smart meters can’t run devices, and the company has said it won’t use the technology to limit energy use.
Will he confuse my information with that of my neighbor?
The smart meter collects data which consists of specific identifiers linked to the customer’s meter number and service address, according to FirstEnergy website. The information is validated several times so that the data is correct before invoicing.