How Do We Measure Smart Meter Usage - Can I Opt Out?

SMUD smart meters save energy, reduce costs and increase reliability. 
Smart meters make our future brighter

These meters help us improve your service and give you powerful tools to control your energy use, as well as your costs.

SMUD’s residential and business smart meters are a big part of the "smart grid", which delivers electricity using digital technology. This saves energy, reduces costs and increases reliability.

By installing smart meters at your home or business, we’ll have state-of-the-art technology to improve your service and provide you with powerful tools to monitor – and adjust – your energy use when you log in to My Account. 

You can also sign up for text and email bill alerts to keep on track with your energy use and your budget.

Together, we’re working toward a future with clean, renewable energy.

Read more in depth about smart meters and how they work.

Can electric service be connected or disconnected remotely?

Yes. For example, if you're moving, you'll no longer need to wait for a field service technician, leave your gates open or worry about your pets.

How do I reset my meter if my service has been disconnected?

Once you’ve made your payment, please wait an hour and follow the instructions below to reset your meter. We want to get you reconnected safely. If any electric devices or appliances were on when your power went out, it could create a hazard when your power is restored. Please ensure that all electrical devices and appliances are off except one light, which will signify when service has been restored. Then,

  1. Go to the meter located outside the residence. The meter will read “ARM” if it needs to be reset.
  2. Firmly push the black button at the front of the meter until it clicks. 

If you cannot locate your meter and you’re at a home, the meter is located on a wall outside your home. If you're in an apartment, please contact your landlord or Property Management Company. If you still need assistance please contact Customer Service.

Will the smart meter interfere with my home electronics?

No. The smart meters are designed not to interfere with your home electronics.

Will my energy use information remain confidential and safe?

Yes. Your energy use information will be safely transmitted over secure servers to SMUD. The company that provides SMUD's wireless network uses the same types of security as the Department of Defense and the online banking industry.

How does the smart meter help protect the environment?

In several important areas:
● By no longer needing a meter reader to visit your home each month, your smart meter will reduce pollution, cut back on fuel consumption and we’ll have fewer
vehicles on the road.
● You’ll be able to make informed decisions about your energy use, which can reduce the demand for electricity.

Can I read my own Smart Meter?
Of course! It’s easy. Your meter uses a digital readout alternating between four displays. The number in the corner represents the type
of information on display. Here’s how to read it:

Display 020 to show your energy use in kilowatt hours (kWh)
Record your reading
Record at a later date (usually 24 hours) and subtract the first reading from the second

Can I opt out of having a smart meter?

Yes. For more information about our opt out policy and fees, click here.

 

Electromagnetic Fields and Radio Frequency

What is EMF?

The term EMF (electromagnetic fields or electric and magnetic fields) is used for low frequency, alternating or direct current, magnetic or electric fields. An electromagnetic field (also EMF or EM field) is a physical field produced by moving electrically charged objects.

Where does EMF occur?
EMF’s are everywhere in our modern world. Here are some
examples:
● They naturally occur from generation, transmission and distribution of electricity
in buildings
● Sources include power lines, internal building wiring and appliances
● Low frequency systems are used to transmit electrical power into our buildings
● Electric fields are created by the voltage present in the system, either in the wiring or power cords

What is the difference between EMF and radio frequency (RF)?
At much higher frequencies, EMF’s are described as ‘radio frequency’ or RF.
● Radio Frequency is used for radio transmissions, including wireless communication
● Any frequencies of electromagnetic radiation between 1kHz and 300 GHz, including those for radio and television transmission, are RF.
● RF is used to transmit power and signals through the air as wireless signal transmission
● RF is used for AM and FM satellite radio, television, radar, cell towers, cell phones, cordless phones, Bluetooth, wireless computer and data transmission (WLAN, WI-FI, WiMAX) networks.

Do smart meters generate RF fields?
Yes. Smart meters emit about one watt. They transmit radio signals once every four hours to collect data for billing purposes – each transmission lasts only 5/100ths of a second. In comparison, cell phones or wireless routers emit 1 -2 watts. Here’s more information about how they work:
● Smart meters need to create a network to function, and may act as a ‘repeater’ (part of the communication chain) for nearby meters
● They may communicate throughout the day to report incidents such as:
o Outages
o Voltage fluctuations
o Alerts about tampering and power theft
o On-demand reads at your request
o These communications are infrequent – occurring on average 60 seconds for every 24 hours
In 2012, we conducted a detailed analysis of transmission frequency and weighted average ‘on air’ time across the smart meter network.
Here are the results:

Electric system message type Transmission frequency per 24-hour period: Average Transmission frequency per 24-hour period: Maximum (99.9th percentile)
Meter read data 6 6
Network management 15 30
Time sync 360 360
Mesh network message management 13,000 240,000
Weighted average duty cycle 61.4 seconds 1,262 seconds                                   

The results of this study confirm that, on average, meters communicate for approximately 60 seconds during every 24-hour period. This “duty cycle” is significantly less than other typical devices including cell phones, wireless routers, and cordless phones.

Comparison of RF power density in the daily environment

Device Relative power density in microwatts per square centimeter
FM radio or TV broadcast signal 0.005 microwatts
Smart meter device at 10 ft. 0.1 microwatts
Cyber cafe (wi-fi) 10-20 microwatts
Laptop computer 10-20 microwatts
Cell phone held to ear 30-10,000 microwatts
Walkie-talkie at head 500-42,000 microwatts
Microwave oven, 2 inches from door 5,000 microwatts

                                Source: Richard Tell Associates, Inc.

 

Are smart meter RF fields safe?
Yes. Key factors for exposure risk are the power and frequency of the emission and distance from a person. Smart meters emit only about 1 watt, and when installed, no transmitter is located within your home. Cell phones are considered riskier since they are held to your head. Our smart meters meet all FCC testing and certification. In addition, we took the extra step of conducting rigorous RF testing during the initial rollout. Even when grouped together such as in apartment complexes, their RF emissions are low when compared to FCC exposure guidelines.

Will smart meter RF fields interfere with my electronics or medical devices?
The smart meters we use have been certified by the FCC and shouldn’t interfere with devices in or around your home.

Read more about FCC guidelines regarding RF exposure.

Download the Smart Grid Fact Sheet (3.5MB PDF)

SMUD has an opt-out program for customers who do not want to upgrade to a smart meter at their home.

Here’s a chart you can use to determine if opting out of a smart meter is the right choice for you

 

Comparing
SMUD meters
Smart meter
(digital)
Non-communicating meter
(analog or digital)
View your daily electricity use Yes No
Outage detection Yes No
Remotely connecting your service Yes No
Future benefits like energy alerts and programs using a home area network Yes No
Set-up fee FREE $127.00 (monthly payments available)
Monthly charge FREE $14.00

Eligibility guidelines for opting out of a smart meter

  • You must be a residential customer receiving service at a single-family home. Multi-family residential units do not qualify.
    • Single family homes may include townhouses and condominiums that are individually metered as well as duplexes and half-plexes where co-location of meters exist. Apartments and other locations where meter banks exist do not qualify.
  • You are responsible for providing and maintaining monthly access to SMUD for purposes of meter installation, maintenance, and reading. Failure to provide and maintain access to SMUD will result in your service being terminated.

If you choose to opt out, an alternative meter will be installed at your home. This meter does not transmit any information or data directly to SMUD. This meter does not have an antenna or wireless communication card. As a result, it's not capable of receiving or transmitting wireless communications. There is no radio frequency (RF) transmission from these meters. Upon your request, an analog or digital meter will be installed at your home.

*SMUD may from time to time revise the fees to reflect changes in meter, billing, and other related costs.

For more information on the alternative meters or to upgrade to a smart meter, please call 1-888-742-7683.

Manufacturer information about the alternative meters can be found here:

If you would like to opt out, please contact us at 1-888-742-7683 or send us a secure email through My Account.

What constitutes "opting out"?
We’ll consider you opted out of having a smart meter if you do at least one of these actions:
Refused installation of a smart meter
Failed to respond to us regarding the installation of a smart meter
Informed us you are opting out of having a smart meter

If I opt out, what kind of meter will I get?
In this case, a non-communicating meter will be installed at your home. It does not transmit any data directly to us. These meters don’t have an antenna or wireless communication card. It’s incapable of receiving or transmitting wireless communications and has no radio frequency (RF) transmission.

May I just keep my old meter?
No. Because we want to offer future capability for time-of-use rates, we must have only one meter in use by each individual. Our meters must be able to track interval usage data.

How often will my meter be read by SMUD field personnel?
We’ll need to read your meter once every three months. For those months it’s not read, we’ll estimate your use based on your previous
averages. The read we obtain every three months will be used to reconcile previous estimates and your account will be adjusted as needed. In order to remain eligible to opt out, you must provide regular access to your meter for reading, maintenance and replacement if necessary.

I want to opt out due to a medical condition. Will I still owe opt out fees?
Yes. We permit all of our customers to opt out for any or no reason. While we appreciate that some hold a differing opinion, at present there’s no credible medical or scientific evidence that RF emissions from smart meters present or exacerbate any current medical condition. Our policies do not exclude anyone from services based on disability. The opt out fee is applied in a non-discriminatory fashion since it applies to all customers electing an alternative metering strategy regardless of that customer’s reason.

What does a ‘non-communicating’ meter look like?
It’s an electric meter with a rotating digital display. There are no communicating or radio mechanisms in the meter. Since its non-communicating, all decals and other marks related to the Federal Communications Commission are not present on the meter.

Are the alternative meters safe?

To ensure the continued safety of our customers, we tested the non-transmitting digital meters we’ll install for those customers who have opted out of a smart meter. Electromagnetic Field in the solid-state meters we selected for use in Opt Out is within the same range of recorded EMF as the old analog meter with dials. 

All tests were conducted at 240 Volts for all current ranges. All EMF measurements are recorded in Milligauss. All tests were completed in SMUD's Meter Shop on the WECO 5100 test bench. A Triaxial Teslatronics Model 70 Milligauss meter was used for measuring the results. Base EMF readings were 0.6-1.0 mG when measured 0-5 feet from the test bench.

 

At 0 Feet

Analog/ Legacy Meter Itron Sentinel Solid State Meter Itron Centron Solid State Meter
mG @ 0 Amps, Voltage only 300 2 1.8
mG @ 200 Amps 600 260 170
mG @ 100 Amps 400 105 100
mG @ 50 Amps 310 55 50
mG @ 25 Amp 303 23 30
At 1 Foot
Analog/ Legacy Meter Itron Sentinel Solid State Meter Itron Centron Solid State Meter
mG @ 0 Amps, Voltage only 11 1.1 1.3
mG @ 200 Amps 22 8.5 19
mG @ 100 Amps 13 4.2 9
mG @ 50 Amps 13.5 2.3 4.8
mG @ 25 Amp 10.9 2 2.9
At 3 Feet
Analog/ Legacy Meter Itron Sentinel Solid State Meter Itron Centron Solid State Meter
mG @ 0 Amps, Voltage only 1.3 1 1
mG @ 200 Amps 5 3.4 4.3
mG @ 100 Amps 2.4 2.5 1.7
mG @ 50 Amps 1.3 1.5 1.3
mG @ 25 Amp 1.5 1.1 1
At 5 Feet
Analog/ Legacy Meter Itron Sentinel Solid State Meter Itron Centron Solid State Meter
mG @ 0 Amps, Voltage only 0.8 0.7 0.8
mG @ 200 Amps 1.3 1 1
mG @ 100 Amps 0.9 0.9 0.8
mG @ 50 Amps 0.7 0.7 0.8
mG @ 25 Amp 0.8 0.8 0.7
All tests were conducted at 240 Volts for all current ranges. All EMF measurements are recorded in Milligauss. All tests were completed in SMUD's Meter Shop on the WECO 5100 test bench. A Triaxial Teslatronics Model 70 Milligauss meter was used for measuring the results. Base EMF readings were 0.6-1.0 mG when measured 0-5 feet from the test bench.
                                                 

 

Have questions about SMUD Smart Meters for your business?

We’ve got answers to your commonly asked questions

Will my energy use information remain safe and confidential?

Yes. Your energy use will be transmitted to us over secure servers. The company that provides our secure wireless network uses the same type of security as the Department of Defense and the online banking industry.

How does the smart meter help the environment?

  • Because your meter will be read electronically, we’ll save fuel consumption and reduce consumption by not having to send a technician out
  • We’ll use new technologies which allow you to regulate the energy you use so you can reduce both the need for more power plants and control your energy costs
  • Your meter uses a digital readout which alternates between four displays.
  • The number in the corner shows the type of information displayed
  • To view your energy use, display 020 shows kilowatt-hours (kWh)
  • Take a reading, then later (usually 24 hours) take the reading again
  • Simply subtract your first number from your second, and you know the kWh you’ve used
  • Reporting power outages
  • Noting voltage fluctuations
  • Alerts about power theft and tampering
  • Reads done at your request
  • Smart meters emit only about 1 watt
  • No transmitter is located inside your building
  • Our meters meet all FCC testing and certification
  • Additionally, we included vigorous RF testing during our initial smart meter installations
  • Even when grouped together, such as at an industrial park, smart meter emissions are far lower than FCC exposure guidelines

How do I read my smart meter?

See more details about reading your meter

Do smart meters generate radio frequency (RF) fields?

Yes. The emit about 1 watt. In comparison, cell phones and wireless routers emit from 1 – 2 watts. Your smart meter transmits radio signals only once every four hours, with each transmission lasting 5/1000ths of a second.

Smart meters create a network in order to function. They may act as a ‘repeater’ (part of the communication chain) for other nearby meters.

Other examples of smart meter communication:

Are the frequencies emitted from my smart meter safe?

Yes. Risk factors include power and frequency of emission and the distance from you.

Will smart meter RF fields interfere with the sensitive electronics in my business?

Our smart meters have been certified by the FCC, and shouldn’t interfere with devices you have at your business. If you have any questions, please contact us prior to installation.

Read more about FCC guidelines regarding RF exposure

Help protect our environment for future generations and more effectively control your energy costs with SMUD smart meters.