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Seattle City Light DEBRA SMITH, General Manager and CEO
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Common Questions


Why is Seattle City Light installing advanced meters?

Seattle is visionary, high-tech and one of the fastest growing cities in the country. It’s important that we keep pace with its increasingly complex energy needs and provide effective service to meet its growth. Advanced Metering is a building block for a more efficient electric system, often called the smart grid.

Our electric distribution system was built in the early 1900s and many of the meters we use today have changed little over the last 100 years. These meters have reached the end of their lifespan and need to be updated. Advanced Metering can help us deliver electric services more efficiently and put our customers in greater control of their energy use.

What is Advanced Metering and how does it work?

An advanced meter collects energy-use information, measured in kilowatt hours, just as today’s meters do. The energy-use information is then sent to City Light through a secure wireless network and is safely stored on City Light servers for customer billing. Meter readers will no longer need to visit homes and businesses to manually record information every two months. Customer billing, which today is done every other month, will eventually change to monthly.

How do I know if I will receive an advanced meter at my home or business?

If you are a City Light customer, you will receive a new meter
(view the service area map). City Light will notify customers well in advance of installing meters.

When will I get my new meter?

Meter exchanges started in Wallingford on July 31, 2017. City Light expects to have all its existing meters exchanged by the end of 2018. You can see a map with the deployment schedule

When will manual meter reading stop?

Seattle City Light meter readers will continue to read meters for several months after the first advanced meters are deployed until software work is completed to automate the billing process.

How can Advanced Metering save me money?

With the ability to view energy-use information daily, customers will be able to make more informed energy-use decisions. This means identifying peak times of use and ways to reduce consumption, which in turn can reduce costs. The new meters also provide several efficiencies for the utility, creating cost savings that can be passed down to customers. In the future, Advanced Metering will be able to tell us how much electricity is being used and where it’s going. This will help us better understand the power grid and more efficiently manage the distribution system.

How will Advanced Metering benefit the environment?

Today, meter readers drive more than 200,000 miles throughout the service area annually to record customer data. That represents 72.3 tons of CO2. With fewer meter-reading vehicles on the road, City Light can spend less on carbon offsets and fuel, producing savings and low rates for customers.

How will City Light protect my privacy?

We are serious when it comes to protecting the personal information of our customers. Personally identifying information (such as name, address, or account number) is not stored in the meter nor is it sent through the wireless network. Only the meter number and the amount of energy a customer uses will be relayed through the wireless network.

Our privacy practices are consistent with the City of Seattle Privacy Initiative to ensure customer information is kept private.

Will my energy-use information be secure?

Now that energy-use information is sent through a wireless network, it is important that we maintain customer privacy and protect the network. The Advanced Metering wireless network will have multiple layers of protection, similar to security used with online banking and ATM machines. All transmitted information will be secure and protected through encryption within the network.

How do the radio frequency levels from Advanced Metering compare to other household devices?

Advanced Metering uses low-energy radio frequency waves to send customers’ energy-use information to City Light through a secure wireless network. Radio frequency is a form of electromagnetic energy that moves through the space around us. It is used with many everyday devices such as baby monitors, cell phones, and WiFi routers. Advanced meters result in much lower levels of radio frequency exposure than many common household electric devices. In fact, exposure levels are many times lower than with a cell phone held to the ear.

Is Advanced Metering safe?

After extensive research and consultation with leading experts, we are confident advanced meters are safe. The science shows that radio frequency emissions typical of many common household devices, like advanced meters, do not affect health (California Council on Science and Technology, 2011).

Radio frequency emissions from advanced meters are far below the limits set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). One study for the state of Vermont found that radio frequency levels at one foot from the meter are about 1,500 times below the exposure limits (Richard Tell Associates, Inc., 2013).

How much will this cost?

The cost of Advanced Metering is being covered within the operating expenses identified in the Strategic Plan. The rate increase identified in the Strategic Plan will be applied toward several other initiatives in addition to advanced meters.

Who owns the new meter once installed?

City Light will own the new meters once they are installed. The customer owns the meter base to which the meter connects. Before installation, every meter base will be inspected for existing safety hazards so repairs can be made, if needed.

How can I learn more about opting out?

Customers will have the choice to opt out of receiving an advanced meter. Learn more about the opt-out program here

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Email us at:
SCL Advanced Metering
or call (206) 727-8777

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    P.O. Box 34023
    Seattle, WA 98124-4023

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