SoCalGas - Frequently Asked Questions about Advanced Meters
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Frequently Asked Questions about Advanced Meters

What are advanced meters?

Why is SoCalGas installing advanced meters?

When will the advanced meters be installed?

Who will receive advanced meters?

What does the installation of the advanced meter involve?

Who will be installing my advanced meter?

How does SoCalGas ensure that the new advanced meters are accurate?

Is the advanced meter network secure?

How do you know that the billing usage data being transmitted is actually my data and does not belong to my neighbor?

How much is this costing and who is paying for these upgrades?

Is SoCalGas going to charge different rates for gas based on time-of-day energy use?

Is there a difference between smart meter technology and the gas advanced meter communication device?

At what frequency will the advanced meters operate? Will it interfere with other wireless devices in my home?

Have the health effects of radio frequency transmissions emitted from advanced meters been assessed?

How does the radio frequency from the advanced meter compare to appliances in my home or other activities?

Where can I learn more about radio frequency?

What are advanced meters?

Advanced metering technology automatically reads and transmits your gas usage information to our customer service and billing center. In addition, advanced meters can provide you with more frequent and detailed access to your natural gas use information, which can enable you to better manage your gas use, help you save money and reduce your impact on the environment.

Why is SoCalGas installing advanced meters?

California's energy policy supports development and implementation of cost-effective advanced metering systems. Advanced meters provide customers with information and tools to better manage and make educated decisions about gas use, which can lead to increased conservation efforts and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

When will the advanced meters be installed?

Installations are planned to begin in late 2012 and continue for up to five years, until the work is completed. Check back soon to find out when you’ll get your advanced meter.

Who will receive advanced meters?

SoCalGas customers -- residences, businesses and institutions -- will receive advanced meters. This is not an optional service upgrade; SoCalGas is upgrading all customer meters and meter-reading technology. You will be notified by mail a few weeks before your advanced meter installation.

What does the installation of the advanced meter involve?

The installation involves attaching a wireless communication device to the existing gas meter. In most cases, there will not be an interruption in your natural gas service, and the installation will only take a few minutes to complete.

In some instances, we may need to replace your entire meter, which, on occasion, may require a service appointment with you to re-light your gas pilot lights. If your meter is identified as one that needs replacement (due to age, compatibility, etc.) and requires us to re-light your gas pilot lights, you will be notified and provided with information on how to schedule a follow-up appointment.

Who will be installing my advanced meter?

One notable aspect of upgrading our metering system is SoCalGas' use of our meter reading workforce to perform the installations and creation of new job opportunities within the company.   SoCalGas is the only California utility that will use its own employees to install the module/meter.  This will significantly lessen the impact of this system enhancement on our employees.

How does SoCalGas ensure that the new advanced meters are accurate?

Prior to installation, the advanced meter devices will undergo rigorous testing by the manufacturer as well as in SoCalGas test laboratories to ensure compliance with all state and national standards. Once installed, meters will be periodically tested to ensure that they are measuring gas use accurately. In addition, the new metering and network communications systems will be continuously monitored to ensure they are working properly.

For quality assurance purposes, meter readers will continue to manually read the meter at your premises until we confirm the electronic meter read is accurate.

 

Is the advanced meter network secure?

SoCalGas considers security a top priority. We take all necessary and reasonable steps to ensure that the services we provide are of high quality, easily available and also extremely secure.

SoCalGas maintains strict confidentiality and privacy policies, and uses the latest technologies to safeguard customer information. Only your gas usage read will be transmitted through the network.  No other personally identifiable information will be transmitted through the system.

How do you know that the billing usage data being transmitted is actually my data and does not belong to my neighbor?

When data is collected from a meter and transmitted wirelessly to SoCalGas, the data contains specific unique identifiers associated with each customer's meter number and service address. These fields are validated numerous times to ensure accuracy before the data is used for billing purposes.

This process, similar to cell phone technology where each cell phone has a unique number that goes with every communication, helps ensure that you are billed correctly for your energy use -- not your neighbor's.

How much is this costing and who is paying for these upgrades?

The cost for advanced meters, as with all meters or equipment purchased by SoCalGas, is a regular business expense and is collected in rates.

At its peak, this project will cost customers approximately $2.00 per month. It is estimated that this upfront investment may yield operating and environmental benefits of over $3.5 billion to customers over the next 25 years. The initial cost will eventually decrease as operational savings are realized.

Is SoCalGas going to charge different rates for gas based on time-of-day energy use?

SoCalGas customers currently pay a flat rate for their gas and it is planned that they will continue to do so. SoCalGas has no plans to charge different rates based upon the time of day at which customers use gas.

Is there a difference between smart meter technology and the gas advanced meter communication device?

The SoCalGas advanced meter differs from most electric utility “smart meters” in several ways. First, the advanced meter consists of installing a communication device on existing analog meters. The communication device is battery powered and is off most of the time. It only turns on for a fraction of a second per day (less than two minutes total per year) to securely transmit your gas usage data. Advanced meters do not communicate with other meters, nor with appliances in the home. Finally, advanced meters cannot turn on or turn off your gas service.

At what frequency will the advanced meters operate and will it interfere with other wireless devices in my home?

The frequency communicating to the gas meter is 450 megahertz (MHz). The advanced meter’s wireless communication works similarly to the way a computer router operates and should not interfere with any wireless devices in the home.

Have the health effects of radio frequency (RF) transmissions emitted from advanced meters been assessed?

Yes, according to studies by the Federal Communications Commission, the Electric Power Research Institute and the World Health Organization, there have been no adverse short- or long-term effects shown to occur from the radio frequency signals produced by advanced meter technologies or other such wireless networks.

How does the radio frequency from the advanced meter compare to other typical equipment or appliances in my home?

Radio frequency from the advanced meter is substantially lower than other typical equipment or appliances in your home. The device is powered by two AA batteries and turns on for only a fraction of a second per day to transmit data, which is less than two minutes per year. So in the context of radio frequency exposure, a person using a cell phone in their house can have as much as a million times more RF exposure than a person standing eight inches from an advanced meter for the fraction of a second that it is actually working.

Where can I learn more about radio frequency?

We understand that some customers may have concerns regarding radio frequency transmissions. Here are several links to additional information and resources:

SoCalGas Fact Sheet

Recent Reports

Other References *

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Updated 2/2012

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