Answers to Common Questions

Background  |  Installation  |  Benefits  |  Safety  |  Accuracy and Security  |  Privacy

BACKGROUND

Why is GPA installing smart meters?
GPA is replacing its old analog meters with digital smart meters for both residential and commercial customers. This is the first step toward Guam’s Smart Grid project that will modernize our Island Wide Power System.

Will the new meter cost me anything?

No, the new meters are part of GPA's operations and part of your electric service.

How are the new meters different from the old meters?
Smart meters have two-way radio communication, allowing GPA to read them remotely, to start and stop power remotely, to receive outage alert notifications and to monitor power quality. The new meters electronically capture and store your energy-usage data using digital technology. GPA then plans to share the information with you through a customer ePortal beginning next summer, giving you better control over your energy usage. By improving the flow of information from the meter to GPA, and from GPA to the customer, smart meters are paving the way for more efficient use of electricity.

top 


INSTALLATION

When will a smart meter be installed in my home?
GPA has installed over 9,000 smart meters and continues to install more than 4,000 per month to the electric system, sweeping from the north part of the island to the south. GPA anticipates completing the meter deployment next summer.

How are customers notified about receiving a smart meter?
Customers will receive a postcard in the mail approximately one week prior to the smart meter install. The day of the meter install, a technician will knock on the door to advise the customer of the meter exchange. If no one is home, the field man will leave a door hanger advising the customer of the meter exchange. The first bill that the customer receives after the smart meter is installed will include readings from both your old meter and your new meter.

How long will the installation take?
Meter installation only takes about 15 minutes, with a brief interruption in electric service. Customers will need to reset their digital clocks.

Can I schedule my meter exchange if my meter is not accessible?
Yes, please call GPA’s meter installer contractor, APEX at 855-437-7356.

Do I need to be home to have my meter replaced?
No, you do not need to be home when your new meter is installed. However, the technician will need unobstructed, safe access to your meter. You should secure your pets on the scheduled installation date.

Will the new meter interfere with my home electronics?
No, the new meters will not interfere with any of your home electronics.

How will I know the meter has changed?
The Apex Meter Technician will leave a door hanger to let you know the meter has been changed.

What if GPA can't change my meter?
If the Apex Meter Technician is unable to replace your meter, a door hanger will be left.

top 


BENEFITS

What is the benefit of a smart meter for the customer?
With smart meters, GPA is able to provide more timely and detailed information to customers on their electricity consumption, enabling them to use electricity more wisely and to better manage their electric bill.

What is the benefit of Smart Grid to GPA?
GPA’s system wide upgrade enables a host of grid optimization and efficiency improvements. Load balancing, power quality monitoring, pro-active outage detection and repair are all GPA benefits to be gained through the deployment of smart grid technology. These upcoming operational efficiency and customer service improvements will help GPA save customers millions of dollars in annual expenses.

Will customers experience less outages with the installation of Smart Grid?
Yes, Smart Grid equipment and technology will improve GPA’s ability to troubleshoot outages. Smart Grid will enable the GPA Control Center to pinpoint the problem and dispatch repair crews to restore service faster.

Do smart meters provide real-time usage information?

Smart meters record usage in real time to the meter. Every four hours power quality and usage information is sent to GPA. Once a day the consumption is transmitted to the GPA Command Center.

Do the new meters help the environment?

Yes, since meter readers will no longer need to read every meter each month that will reduce pollution, fuel consumption and traffic. Additionally, the information you will be able to access once the Customer Connect ePortal is available can help you make decisions on reducing energy consumption, which can reduce the amount of electricity demand and the environmental impacts associated with power generation.

top 


SAFETY

What are the possible health effects of radio-frequency emissions from smart meters?
Some people have asked about the potential health effects from exposure to the radio frequency emitted by smart meters.

Smart meters transmit relatively weak radio signals. Radio waves from a smart meter, at a distance of 10 feet, are only about one one-thousandth (.001) as much as a typical cell phone. Smart meters are outside the customer's house, separated by the home's walls.

Smart meter radio-frequency levels are the focus of a case study in February 2011 by the Electric Power Research Institute. EPRI is an independent, non-profit organization that performs research, development and demonstration in the electricity sector for the benefit of the public.

http://www.srpnet.com/electric/home/pdfx/EPRIstudy.pdf

The Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC) is a consumer focused non-profit organization has concluded that smart meters do not produce any negative health impacts. With over 25,000 articles published on the topic over the last 30 years, scientific knowledge in this area is now more extensive than for most chemicals.

Finally, the radio frequency of the wireless smart meters used by GPA is well within the limits set by the Federal Communications Commission.

top 


ACCURACY and SECURITY

Will the new meter change my bill?
No, the new meter will not directly change your bill. However, the smart meter provides additional information to help you track, each day, how your home uses energy and what it's costing you. This will enable you to make changes to make your home more energy efficient and reduce costs.

How are smart meters read?
Our smart meters communicate with GPA daily through a secure radio network.

Can smart meters send back a wrong read?

No, smart meters will not send back a wrong read. Smart meters report the same read as is measured by the meter. The read may be verified by checking the meter display. Each meter has a uniquely assigned identification code. This code enables GPA to accurately and securely attribute reported data to the correct smart meter.

How does GPA monitor smart meters and how often does GPA check them to make sure they are working correctly?
GPA systematically monitors on a daily basis the consumption and diagnostic data reported by the meters. It also continuously monitors the status of the communications network.

GPA performs numerous billing validation routines that identify when usage falls outside expected parameters. If a bill falls outside these parameters, the bill is validated and/or corrected before it is issued.

Customers may also validate their billings by verifying the meter reads at the meter or tracking their daily energy consumption on GPA My Account. You can also see instructions on how to read the smart meter.

top 


PRIVACY

GPA follows and applies industry best practices, national security standards and guidelines along with the assistance of security experts to ensure the implementation and delivery of secure, reliable, and safe services for all GPA customers.

Some of the applied cyber security measures for the GPA Smart Grid Project include:

• A “Defense in Depth” security methodology that involves people, process and technology providing a multi-layered approach to physical and logical security.

• An Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system implementation that includes a fully encrypted communication system.

• Meters that contain no personal information related to a customer.

• The development and implementation of a “life-cycle” approach for security that provides a structured implementation and on-going updates of technical, operational, and management cyber security controls.

GPA also works closely on cyber security subject matter with national organizations such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Energy, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) among others to develop best practices for the industry. "Security – whether it’s in utilities, banking or another industry – is an ever-changing endeavor. Therefore, it’s essential to always be on guard. GPA is constantly monitoring, testing and moving to the next level."

top