In December, 2011, NV Energy began replacing electric and gas meters with digital versions called smart meters. According to spin doctoring by our northern Nevada provider of electricity and natural gas, "our smart meter/smart grid program will change the way you think about energy. It will give you the tools and technology to make informed choices about your energy use - choices that could save you money and help the environment. NVEnergize puts the power in your hands."
Old-style electric meters are going away in Reno.
Photo © Stan White
Smart meters are digital - no more little whirring wheels check and see how fast they are spinning. Instead, customers will be able to monitor electricity use on a daily basis if they want to. You'll see a running total of your energy bill and be able to track energy use at specific times. NV Energy says all this and more will be available to individual customers through their online accounts, enabling customers to save money.
Of course, this isn't free. NV Energy says it will cost $300 million to do the whole state. Half the money is coming from a U.S. Department of Energy grant and the rest is to be paid for with future cost savings.
Smart meters send usage information to NV Energy every 15 minutes via radio frequency (RF) transmission (wireless). Some folks with a conspiracy theory / privacy invasion mentality suspect NV Energy of using the new meters to do all sorts of things, including collecting personal information and spying on intimate details of how and when we use our appliances. There are also concerns about RF radiation. Personally, I don't have a problem with smart meters. The air is already full of RF waves (cellphones, microwave ovens, wireless networks, etc.) and having the ability to monitor my energy consumption could actually save a few bucks.
If you have questions and/or concerns, go to NV Energize and click on the FAQ link at the top. You can also try the information phone at (888) 559-9744.
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