FPL | AMI | How Advanced Electronic Meters Work
 

   

  1. How do the smart meters work? What's different about these meters compared to the old ones?
  2. How do the smart meters transmit information? Could you explain how it works?
  3. Are the new advanced electronic meters accurate?
  4. How does FPL ensure that these meters are accurate?
  5. Are the new meters more accurate than the old meters?
  6. Will FPL still need meter readers?
  7. Will FPL eventually replace all of its meters with this new technology?
  8. When you come to install the new meter, what can I expect?
  9. Do I have to be at home when the smart meter is installed?
  10. How will I know when I have a smart meter and can access the information it provides?
  11. Are there any eligibility requirements to receive a smart meter?
  12. Will installing a smart meter raise the amount of my energy bill?
  13. Will the smart meter decrease my energy bill?
  14. Do I have to pay for the cost for electricity needed by the meter to transmit usage information to FPL?
  15. If this technology is using a radio frequency to report information, will it be secure?
  16. Do you have more information about radio frequency and the smart meters?
  17. What if I am currently enrolled in the surge protection program or the load control program with FPL?
  18. Will I be billed differently once I am using the new technology?
  19. Will my billing date change as a result of the advanced electronic metering project?
  20. How can customers who don’t have Internet access monitor their smart meters and their energy usage?
  21. Will there be a charge for the new meter?
  22. If you are going to access my yard or property, do I need to secure my dog? If so when?
  23. Will the amount of power I've already used be recorded at the time my meter is installed?
  24. How often will meter data be collected?
  25. Where are the new meters manufactured?
  26. What will you do with the old meters?
  27. If my meter will be read remotely, will FPL still need access to my property?

 

   1. How do the smart meters work? What's different about these meters compared to the old ones?

One of the easiest ways to understand how a smart meter works is to compare it to the traditional electromechanical meter that is likely on your home or business now. Electromechanical meters have mechanical parts that spin as electricity is consumed in the premise; they portray a usage readout on small dials that a utility meter reader reads while on the property of your home or business. This reading then translates into your bill. Compare this to an advanced digital or “smart” meter. Smart meters track your consumption digitally – with no moving parts – and then use a secure radio frequency band to communicate directly with FPL through intelligent devices installed on the electrical grid.

Meter readings will be done remotely. This energy usage information will also be available to customers online so they can more closely monitor and manage their energy use. Monthly, daily and hourly usage will be available to customers, providing a more complete picture of electric consumption, whereas in the past customers could view only their monthly usage.

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   2. How do the smart meters transmit information? Could you explain how it works?

This technology is Internet Protocol (IP) based RF mesh. The RF capability means the meters communicate through radio frequency. Each meter is equipped with a full two-way 900 MHz radio transmitter that sends and receives information to an access point which is also radio-equipped. The access point is the collection point for the meter information that is sent back into an FPL system. Each access point, which is typically mounted on a power pole, is the size of a shoe box and can handle communications to thousands of meters. New RF mesh technology expands the ability of a meter to communicate to an access point by allowing the signal to be relayed off of other meters to find a path and maintain the connection required for communications.

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   3. Are the new advanced electronic meters accurate?

Yes. You can be assured that any meter FPL uses meets rigorous standards of accuracy and is thoroughly tested as part of our normal operating procedure.

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   4. How does FPL ensure that these meters are accurate?

FPL has industry-leading best practices to ensure the accuracy of its meters. Every new smart meter that is being installed has been tested multiple times for accuracy. Here’s how the testing works:

  • Before the meters are shipped to FPL, the manufacturer, GE, performs accuracy testing on 100 percent of the meters to ensure that they meet FPL’s requirements for an accuracy variation of +/- 0.5 percent. This tolerance exceeds the requirements of the Florida Administrative Code and conforms to the requirements of the American National Standards Institute, an agency that guides norms and guidelines that impact businesses in every sector, including energy. The test results for each meter are maintained at FPL.
  • In addition, GE, the meter manufacturer, also performs “end of line” sample testing, during which a sampling of meters from each production run is tested for full functionality. FPL's Meter Technology Center receives a Quality Certificate for each shipment attesting to a successful completion of the end-of-line sample test.
  • Once meters reach FPL, we pull pallets of meters at random from periodic shipments for additional accuracy testing at FPL’s Meter Technology Center.
  • In addition, a sample of meters are randomly selected every week from shipments we receive from GE, the manufacturer, and sent to Austin International, an independent third party testing firm, for further testing.

In addition, FPL has a standard meter test plan filed with the Public Service Commission (PSC) detailing how meter accuracy will be verified on all types of meters on an annual basis. These include:

  • An in-service sampling program for all meter types, which begins after the meters have been in-service for one year.
  • Testing/investigation at our Meter Technology Center of any meter that is removed from service for unsatisfactory performance.

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   5. Are the new meters more accurate than the old meters?

The new smart meters are electronic, and they are replacing the meters in the field that currently operate with electro-mechanical parts. Just as with any other mechanical component, the wear and tear can cause some mechanical meters to slow down as they age and perhaps under-register the amount of electricity that a customer is using. The electronic meters use no moving parts to calculate power consumption. Any meters that are wearing out and slowing down would have to be replaced eventually, whether or not we were deploying electronic meters.

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   6. Will FPL still need meter readers?

Meter readers will still be needed to read meters that have not yet been converted to smart meters, such as large commercial and industrial meters and large business meters.

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   7. Will FPL eventually replace all of its meters with this new technology?

FPL has begun a full-scale installation to provide residential and small business customers with smart meters, at a rate of approximately one million per year until completion.

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   8. When you come to install the new meter, what can I expect?

A Honeywell installer, working on behalf of FPL, will knock on your door to let you know we are working on your meter, although you don’t need to be home for us to change out the meter. The work doesn’t take long—usually less than 10 minutes. During that time, you will experience a very brief interruption of your electric service (30-60 seconds). We will do everything we can to keep the inconvenience to a minimum. If we cannot access the meter, we will leave a door hanger asking that you contact us to set an appointment.

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   9. Do I have to be at home when the smart meter is installed?

If we are able to access the meter, you do not have to be at home. If we cannot easily access your meter, we will need to make arrangements to gain access to change the meter.

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   10. How will I know when I have a smart meter and can access the information it provides?

We will send you more details about smart grid benefits when the transition to smart meters has been completed in your area. This can take several months after the meter has been installed. That’s because there are a lot of associated communications and networking components that must be put into place to enable communication. Once all of these elements are installed, FPL performs extensive tests to verify that the performance of the system meets our strict criteria. In the interim, FPL will continue to read the meter manually. When the smart meter is activated, FPL will begin billing the customer based on the remote readings from the meter. You will then be able to access your detailed usage information online.

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   11. Are there any eligibility requirements to receive a smart meter?

FPL will provide a smart meter to most residential and many business customers throughout FPL’s service territory.

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   12. Will installing a smart meter raise the amount of my energy bill?

The smart meter will not increase the amount of electricity you use. It is the amount of electricity you use that determines the amount of your monthly bill. It is important to note that electricity usage does vary significantly throughout the year, with weather as the largest contributing factor. If you would like to reduce your energy costs, FPL has a variety of tips and programs that can help you.

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   13. Will the smart meter decrease my energy bill?

The smart meter gives you more information about your energy usage, and thus allows you to use this information to make choices that could save you money. But ultimately it’s the choices you make that determine how much electricity you use, and consequently, how much you’re billed.

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   14. Do I have to pay for the cost for electricity needed by the meter to transmit usage information to FPL?

No. There are essentially two ‘sides’ of the meter – the source side, which is the utility side, and the demand side, which is the home and business side that is used to calculate your bill. The power used to drive the meter and communicate with FPL is obtained from the source side of the meter and thus is not registered on the display, nor charged to the customer.

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   15. If this technology is using a radio frequency to report information, will it be secure?

Yes. FPL considers the safe delivery of electrical service our paramount priority. This includes the protection of our networks and customer data. FPL’s standards are much stricter than the current industry standards, and we are taking a very methodical approach to our rollout of smart meters. As part of our standard methodology, we conduct small-scale pilot projects, and we bring in third party experts to review and test our systems. We use multiple third parties in order to get the benefit of the best experts in the industry. We are also working very closely with our strategic partners, including Cisco Systems and GE, to apply best practices developed from securing other critical infrastructures. In addition, FPL has worked with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Edison Electric Institute, and the Utilities Communications Association International Users Group to ensure that proper security measures are part of any deployment of smart meters.

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   16. Do you have more information about radio frequency and the smart meters?

New smart meters record your electricity use digitally and use small, low-power radios to send the information securely to FPL. This makes it possible for us to deliver a variety of benefits to our customers, including greater reliability and more information that enables you to have more control over your energy bills. Radio frequency (RF) is a term used to describe both man-made and naturally-occurring energy associated with electromagnetic waveforms in the range of about 30 kHz to 300 GHz. Ambient RF comes from many sources used every day. Some common sources of RF are:

  • Cellular phone transmissions
  • TV over-the-air broadcast
  • Wireless computer networks
  • AM/FM radio stations
  • HAM radios
  • Satellite transmissions
  • Over-the-air communication services (police, walkie-talkies, pagers, CB radios)

For more, see our RF information.

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   17. What if I am currently enrolled in the surge protection program or the load control program with FPL?

The installation of the smart meters will not have any impact on these programs or equipment.

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   18. Will I be billed differently once I am using the new technology?

No. You will continue to receive your bill in the same manner as you do today.

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   19. Will my billing date change as a result of the advanced electronic metering project?

No. Your billing date will not change at this time as a result of your new meter.

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   20. How can customers who don’t have Internet access monitor their smart meters and their energy usage?

Customers without Internet access at home can sign in securely to FPL’s Web site from their local public library or other locations that offer free Internet access. Also, customers can call 1-800-226-3545 to speak to a customer service representative who will be able to review their usage over the phone or answer specific questions.

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   21. Will there be a charge for the new meter?

No. You will not be assessed any additional charges for this new meter.

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   22. If you are going to access my yard or property, do I need to secure my dog? If so when?

It depends. If Honeywell installers need access to your back yard, they will knock at your door first to let you know at which time you can secure your dog if needed. If you are not at home when the Honeywell installer needs access to your yard, and they are not able to obtain safe access because of a dog or locked fence, a notice will be left at your door letting you know they were there and a number to call to schedule an appointment.

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   23. Will the amount of power I've already used be recorded at the time my meter is installed?

Yes. The exact reading on the meter at the time of installation will be captured and documented. You will be billed only for electric usage at your home or business.

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   24. How often will meter data be collected?

Meter data is collected on a daily basis.

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   25. Where are the new meters manufactured?

Energy Smart Florida is using GE smart meters assembled in the United States, locally in Bradenton, Florida.

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   26. What will you do with the old meters?

Recycle them. FPL is committed to the conservation of resources that impact our communities and environment, and will be recycling the reusable materials and metals from removed meters.

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   27. If my meter will be read remotely, will FPL still need access to my property?

Yes. Our meter readers will still need safe access to the meter until the system is fully activated, which could take several months. Customers should continue to follow any safe meter access arrangements they’ve made with FPL. Customers should continue to make the meter accessible in order to ensure we are able to read the meter and provide an accurate bill. Customers will be notified by mail once the meters are fully activated and the meter reader no longer needs monthly access. Other FPL employees may still need access to the meter occasionally to test or maintain equipment or for account settlement / collection practices

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