Cybersecurity expert at RG&E answers questions on smart meters

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Over the course of the next few years, RG&E will be coming to every home in the Rochester region to replace the electric and gas meters.

They’re changing over to smart meters, which will remotely transmit your usage directly to the utility. Considering all of the customer service and billing issues at RG&E over the past year, there are a lot of questions about how the roll-out of smart meters will be handled.

News10NBC investigative reporter Jennifer Lewke: “How do I know that the new technology that you’ll be putting in my home is safe and is not going to gather more information than you say it is?”

Brian Harrell, VP of cybersecurity at RG&E: “Sure, everything is tested. We do not bolt security on in the rear, we bolt it on as we are deploying.”

The smart meter reads and sends your usage back to the utility in real-time. No more meter readers, no more estimates. Harrell says each and every reader is equipped with safety features to protect your data.

Brian: “Everything that goes on, into a home, everything that we put into our system has been beta tested, it has been put through the ringer if you will and we’re very cognizant and aware of the current threats that are out there from nation state advisories and criminal gangs and so we’ve taken that into account as we build and roll out new products.”

RG&E says the data these smart meters collect stays with them. It won’t sell or provide any of it, to outside agencies. Eventually, you’ll be able to use smart pricing options, meaning you can shift your usage to a time of day when the price of electricity is less expensive.

First, you have to believe that RG&E’s new billing system, put in recently to handle all these changes, is going to work the way it should.

Jen: How long until you feel like people can trust it?

Brian: I think we’re maturing every day from a cybersecurity perspective. I’m very confident.

If you don’t want a smart meter, you can opt out but it’s going to cost you, a lot actually. You’re looking at about $12 per month to stick with the old meter and that’s because RG&E says it’s going to cost them to send someone out to read it every couple of months.

The roll out of smart meters is happening over the next three years in our area. If you have questions, there’s an open house on April 11 at 5 p.m. at the Greece Town Hall.

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