Depending on the class of service (Residential, Commercial, or Industrial) Advanced Meters collect different types of data, and transmit it to the utility's meter management system via secure wireless communication channels and fiber-optic lines. Here's a breakdown of the various types of data collected and their frequency:
Advanced Meters at residential installations collect kilowatt-hour consumption, just as a standard meter does. There is also the capability to collect other types of data, depending on the need of the customers, such as net-metering for customers with solar panels.
Additionally, Advanced Meters monitor for abnormal conditions such as fluctuating voltage levels and open neutrals, which is important for both the safety of the customers and our electrical network.
Advanced Meters also allows for the possibility of recording time-of-use kilowatt-hour consumption, which is a way to incentivize customers to use blocks of energy during different times of the day at a lower energy rate. However, any time-of-use rate would first have to be approved by the Seattle City Council before implementation.
Residential Energy Use Characteristics
While Advanced Meters can, with specific programming, collect limited data on how energy is being used, City Light does not plan on collecting this information, other than in certain instances where it might be advantageous to the customer (electric vehicle charging patterns, for example). Collecting consumption information at the plug level is not useful to our mission in providing clean, reliable energy at a low price point.
Home Energy Management
Customers who wish to deploy a home energy management system will be able to access the information from their meter to get near real-time information on power use. Because this information will be through the customer's home wireless network, it will be important for the customer to make sure they are observing all the necessary security protocols to protect their own information.
The frequency of residential reads is still to be established, but in the interest of operational efficiency, it will most likely be limited to a few times a day at most. The only time we would access a meter read outside of the regularly scheduled time would be if a customer had a question about their consumption. In that case, we would get verbal permission from the customer to proceed.
For our small commercial customers, the read type and frequency would be similar to residential customers: Kilowatt-hour consumption only, and just a few times a day.
Our Medium and High use customers (those with more than 50kw of demand in any one billing period) will have more frequent read schedules, and we will be collecting information not only on kilowatt-hour consumption, but also peak demand and reactive power - the same as what we collect presently. We use this information to help these customer's manage their power use and reduce pressure on the system.
Across our entire distribution network, Advanced Metering will help us monitor for outages, voltage issues, line losses, equipment problems, and current diversion. This will help us operate the system much more efficiently, and catch small problems before they become big ones.
All data transmitted by the meters will be encrypted using the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) - 128 bit. In addition, the RF Network will protect against reverse engineering data hacking by locking the microcontrollers containing the firmware. This will prevent spoof proofing data hacking by requiring all new encrypted firmware to be validated for integrity and authenticated upon installation.
Learn more about Data Privacy and Advanced Metering