Smart Meters, Smart Choices
Each time Tom Croly puts in a full load of laundry into the dryer, he’s charged $1.50 on his electric bill. When his big screen TV powers up for up to five hours in the evening, another 40 cents is added to his monthly charge.
This is the kind of information Croly, a Maui Meadows resident, has gleaned from participating in the Maui Smart Grid Project. Croly said he’s been cost-conscious for much of his life, following the model he learned from his parents as a child.
The Smart Grid project helps him to more effectively collect information and make smart choices. “If I buy anything new, I look for how much energy it’s going to use,” he said. Recently, he returned a refrigerator because it used more electricity than advertised. “I’m a data junkie. I like data and I like to analyze data.”
He said he also signed up for the Smart Grid project, recognizing that in order for Maui to be energy independent, leaders in the field had to obtain information that would help them implement alternative energy resources.
Smart meters in other communities
Numerous smart grid and smart meter studies are ongoing as more and more communities look to achieving greater energy efficiency and cost effectiveness. Three more have surfaced recently which may be of interest to you:
An Evaluation of Radio Frequency Fields Produced by Smart Meters Deployed in Vermont
This new Vermont state report assessed the safety of smart meter emissions as compared to the Federal Communications Commission. The Vermont Legislature commissioned the report last year as part of a package of energy legislation.
Radio Frequency Exposure Report
Central Maine Power officials and state regulators recently released a smart meter safety study that compared the radio frequency emissions from their meters against Federal Communications Communication standards.
Report on Health and Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields from Advanced Meters
The Public Utilities Commission of Texas released a report on potential biological effects from exposure to low-level radio frequency.
As the project progresses, we are pleased to continue to hear from your neighbors. Here’s a recent one from some volunteers.
QUESTION: My electric bill has increased since my Smart Meter was installed. Was this caused by the Smart Meter?
ANSWER: There may be a number of explanations for why your electric bill has increased since your Smart Meter was installed.
- Do you have solar PV? If yes, solar production is generally lower in the winter than other times of the year due to less sunlight hours and more cloud cover.
- You may have used more energy during the holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years. Parties, meals, and guests can increase the use of ovens, dryers, water heaters, etc. The Smart Grid web portal allows you to see your daily usage over the billing period and identify links to events in your home.
- Your Maui Electric bill may have other clues. You can check the details of your current bill and compare it with previous months. For example, the cost of fuel (oil), which changes monthly, may have increased during the billing period and would be reflected in the Base Fuel Charge line. For more information, go online to http://www.mauielectric.com, click on “Residential Services” and then click on “About Your Bill.” It provides a detailed, section by section explanation of the various charges on your bill. Note that Maui Electric does not know how much total solar has been produced by your PV system currently, only the net amount sent back to the grid shows on your bill.
- Your Smart Meter provides a more accurate reading of your power usage than traditional analog meters. Did you have an estimated bill? If so, there may be catch up charges once Maui Electric has been able to read your meter.
If you continue to have questions about the Smart Meter and your bill, please contact Kristen Simeone at 270-6801.
“Hawaii is first in solar water heater installations per capita in the United States.”
(State of Hawaii, Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism presentation, June 28, 2012)
The Maui Smart Grid Project partners are very interested in your response to the Smart Meter, the Online Portal, and the In-home Devices. We will be sending you a 5-minute survey to collect your experiences with the MSGP, including energy audits that many of you had for your home by students from the Sustainable Living Institute of Maui at UH Maui College.
Please look for an email from our project team member, Melanie Stephens at email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Your feedback is important to us and we appreciate your time in completing the survey so that we can better serve you.
Thank you in advance for assisting us with this valuable information.
Maui Smart Grid Project Partners