RG&E crews begin smart meter installations

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – RG&E is distributing its first batch of smart meters this week. It’s a transition expected to take around three years.

RG&E says the goal is to improve reading accuracy, and ultimately clear up billing issues.

News10NBC got a firsthand look at one of the installations taking place. The process only took about five minutes, and around 600,000 customers are on deck, unless you opt-out.

“The smart meters are going to allow us to see the meters and the voltages and the usage real time, through our network,” says Angie Capps, Manager of RG&E and NYSEG’s Meter Services. She said they’re handing out their first batch to residents and Henrietta, and then Greece.

Officials said the smart meters mean no more estimates, and no more meter readers.

“We’re able to see in 15 minute increments, everything that’s going on. So we’ll be able to tell when a customer loses power, because we get a message from the meter that it loses power. But we’ll also, more importantly, be recording real time usage data, that’s going to go on our website.”

Capps said the customer can review their own energy usage online, down to the 15 minute interval.

She said the meters will be especially helpful for any wind or snowstorm.

“Like I said, if a whole neighborhood is down, it will help us pinpoint where the fuse is that blew, which is where we dispatch the line crew, and they start there to patrol their lines to figure out where the damage is,” says Capps.

Amid recent customer billing issues over the past year, Capps said they’re working to improve customer service and communication through this move. But it doesn’t come without some frequently asked questions and concerns: Will the meter have control of my thermostat?

“The customer would have to link their meter to their WiFi, and to their thermostat, so it would never happen without the customer’s consent,” said Capps. “Because the customer would have to physically make that change. The meter is only transmitting the meter’s usage, the electricity, voltage and things like that. It has no information about what the customer is.”

Capps said you will get a heads up before crews come to your home. Customers can expect postcards in the mail, and a robocall ahead of RG&E’s arrival.

Capps said she’s been working on this project since 2007, and meters had to go through approval by the state public service commission.

You can opt out, if you choose.

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