Fact Check: Higher utility rates during peak hours?

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — News10NBC has a Fact Check follow-up. It’s on those smart meters from RG&E and NYSEG that will be going in our homes over the next few years. Some local folks are worried about what’s been happening with this new technology in other parts of the country.

Here’s a new claim about smart meters: Utility companies will charge higher rates during peak hours.

One viewer said his relatives in South Carolina already have them and had to pay more to run their air conditioning and dishwasher during certain times of the day.

In case you missed our first report , smart meters will track your electric or natural gas use with a direct connection to your provider. So instead of someone coming out to your house to read the meter, your meter reading is transmitted to the power company wirelessly. That means no more estimated billing. It will also alert the company immediately if there’s a power outage. That could lead to faster restoration times.

Another benefit? You’ll be able to look at your day-to-day energy consumption.

Back to the possibility of higher rates at certain times in the day. Could this happen with RG&E and NYSEG once smart meters are installed around here? The short answer is possibly.

Avangrid Corporate Communications Manager Sarah Warren says pricing options based on time-of-use may be available in the future, but customers will have the choice to participate or not.

Here’s another claim: Smart meters put your privacy at risk.

So what about privacy and hacking?

"Cybersecurity is of the utmost importance to us and is taken very seriously," Warren said. "We have extensive experience securing and protecting our information systems and the electricity grid. While smart meters have added a new component to our system, the meters, communications, and information management are subject to the same Department of Energy security standards that keep the grid secure."

We also found out smart meters will use data encryption to protect customer information when it is relayed to its system.

So this one is to be determined. RG&E and NYSEG may be able to charge you more for using electricity or natural gas at certain times of the day.

Avangrid says when smart meters are rolled out in our area, all customers will be automatically enrolled in the program. If customers wish to not participate, they will be offered the opportunity to opt out. Specific details of the opt-out program will be released as we get closer to the installation dates.

We’ll keep you posted on any developments.


Check out other Fact Checks here. If you have an idea for Fact Check, email Nikki Rudd at nrudd@whec.com.