Bryan Olnick, FPL vice president of Customer Service for Smart Grid Solutions, discusses the roll out of smart grid technology and the benefits for FPL customers. Through April 2012, more than 3.2 million of FPL’s 4.6 million customers have smart meters installed. Installation will continue through 2013. Visit the digital library at www.FPL.com/newsroom to download photos and video of smart meters.
This is an exciting time to work in the energy business and it is also a good time to be a customer of Florida Power & Light Company. We are rolling out advanced technology that will allow FPL to improve upon its already industry-leading reliable service and give our customers more control than ever over their energy bills.
The technology includes smart meters, which will replace the traditional meters on the side of your home. Unlike the traditional meters, which required someone to visit your home and read the energy use on a monthly basis, the smart meters use radio frequencies to communicate with our network. Automated feeder switches and other "smart grid" technology we are installing on our poles and lines are integrated with the smart meters, allowing us to reroute power in the case of an outage and minimize the number of customers who will be impacted. The upgrade to smart meters will also help us see outages in the system so we can get to work faster restoring your power.
What's more, you as a customer will have access to the information your smart meter delivers through an "energy dashboard' that gives you a complete look at your account and your energy use by the month, day or hour. The energy dashboard will show you your energy use history and even project your bill based on your current use patterns. It will provide additional information about how the weather impacts your monthly bill. All of this is designed to give you greater control over your energy use and, with it, the ability to change your usage to lower your bill. No more surprises at the end of the month!
Not everyone has embraced the value of smart grid technology. You may have read accounts from critics who assert smart meters are a way of "Big Brother" monitoring your personal life. This couldn't be further from the truth. Like the older mechanical meters, they measure how much total energy customers use, and not specifically which appliances use that energy. The difference is that the new smart meters can now communicate that information remotely instead of a meter reader having to visit your location once a month. The energy usage information is fully encrypted, and the smart meter does not store or transmit any information about who our customers are, where they live, or what they're doing.
There are critics who worry about smart meters and radio frequency. The fact of the matter is, unlike many other common household devices that transmit radio frequency, smart meters only transmit data in short bursts lasting just a few seconds. The meters are inactive as much as 99 percent of the time. That means they give off a fraction of the radio frequency compared to cell phones or other common household devices, like baby monitors.
Once you experience the benefits of smart grid technology, we think you will agree it is a significant way for us to better serve you, and for you to take control of your energy use. With FPL, you already have a great value, the lowest power bills in the state. Now, with smart grid technology, you have the opportunity to make your bill even lower. Check out www.FPL.com/energysmart to get all the information and see how customers are already saving energy and money using their online energy dashboard--a new FPL service made possible by smart meters.