Answers to some of the questions you might ask about GMP Smart Power.
What is GMP Smart Power?
GMP Smart Power is our “smart grid” solution designed to modernize and automate the electric grid, provide automated meter reading, and empower customers to make better energy choices. It focuses on improvements to the reliability of the grid, quicker storm recovery, and better incorporation of small renewable generators into the system.
How does a “smart grid” work?
GMP Smart Power moves electricity from generation sources to you with digital technology and two-way communications between you and us. A smart grid that is combined with the electricity distribution system gives us a better overview of the energy needs on the grid at any point in time.
How can I take advantage of GMP Smart Power?
Right now, you can use our new online portal to securely access information about your account. You can not only view your billing history, make a payment, and handle other administrative tasks, but you can also view your consumption history on a yearly, daily, and hourly basis. With this information, you can get a better understanding of how and when you use electricity, and experiment to see how different behaviors can change your power consumption, like making sure to turn off lights in unoccupied rooms or unplugging phone and tablet chargers when they are not in use. As we continue to add features to the online portal and implement more rate choices, you will be able to use this information to become more efficient with your energy use and potentially lower your energy bills.
How are the new meters different from the old ones, and how will the change affect me?
GMP Smart Power meters will measure electricity use with digital technology that we can read remotely. We no longer have to drive thousands of miles each month to read meters, which saves fuel and reduces air emissions. Your new meter also allows instant meter reads. This tells us immediately if your power goes out and helps us operate the grid in a safe and reliable way, particularly when energy demands are high.
You can also view your hourly energy consumption whenever you choose, through a secure online Web portal. You can use this information to adjust your use and lower your bill.
Why do I no longer have meter readings on my bill?
Now that the smart meters measure your electricity use every 15 minutes, there’s no need for us to compare readings from the beginning and end of each month like we did with your old meter. The new smart meters allow us to calculate your bill by using the 15-minute data or daily reads recorded by the meter. Since these readings will be available online for you through your account portal, there’s no need for them to be printed on your bill.
You can still see readings on your meter as you always have. They are digitally displayed on the front of your meter. If you want to keep track yourself, look for the 6-digit display labeled “kWh” and take the difference of two readings for your total kWh usage during that time. You can also go online to our new Web portal and view your interval usage in a variety of ways. This online portal is available today for all GMP customers. You can also call us for access to usage information.
How will GMP Smart Power help me make better choices?
Right now, you have access to a secure Web page to view your energy usage in multiple formats and time frames, in a way that can help you find meaningful trends in your energy use and opportunities for change. Soon, you will also be able to compare new and existing rate options to see what would provide the best deal based on actual consumption patterns. Customers without Internet access can call into our Customer Information Center for access to the same data.
Can I opt out from GMP Smart Power?
Yes. If, after reading about all the benefits and opportunities above, you still would like to opt out of GMP Smart Power, you are free to do so. Customers who choose to opt out must call the Customer Care Center at 1-888-835-4672 to let us know.
Does the new system mean you can shut off my appliances or control my energy usage without my permission?
No. Except in normal cases of disconnection for nonpayment or emergency situations, we will not control your energy use without your permission. Just like the old meters, smart meters only tell us how much energy you are using, not what you are using it for. That stuff isn’t any of our business.
Will I have new rate choices?
In the future, we hope to offer new rate choices that will allow you to reduce or shift your electricity use and save money. Time-of-use pricing offers electricity at different prices based on energy demands. If the price is low, you might choose to do tasks that require a lot of energy, like washing and drying clothes, at that time. When the price is higher, you might decide to wait to do the laundry until prices are lower.
How will you protect my privacy?
We are committed to protecting every last detail of information we use to optimize GMP Smart Power. We will not release your personal information without your consent unless required by law. Protecting personal information has been an ongoing part of our operations and it is a commitment embedded in the GMP Smart Power program. We will continue to use reasonable and appropriate measures to protect your personal information and handle that information in a confidential manner.
Will I have to make any changes in my home?
For most customers, the answer is no. You will not need to make changes to your home or your usage patterns unless you want to do so. If you were a CVPS customer on Rate 11 or 13 with a hardwired control prior to the merger with GMP, your control functionality may change. If you were a CVPS customer on Rate 11 prior to the merger and would like to remain on this rate, you will need to have a time-clock device installed to continue to control load.
Will I save money on my energy bills?
GMP Smart Power helps to lower all customers’ costs, lower than they would otherwise be, by lowering operating costs and the costs associated with power restoration. In addition, GMP Smart Power provides the opportunity for you to get more for your energy dollar. Still, how much money you save will depend on your rate choice and how you decide to use electricity. The new meters will make it possible for each customer to determine what rate best suits their lifestyle. Customers using time-of-use rates may choose to use less power when prices are high and more power when they are low. With this information, you are in better control of the way you use energy and what you pay for it.
Are there environmental benefits?
Yes – that’s one of the reasons we created GMP Smart Power. The program will help us control peak energy purchases. Not only do these purchases cost more than nonpeak purchases, but also peak loads typically require the operation of the region’s dirtiest generating sources to meet demand. GMP Smart Power also helps us more easily connect new renewable-energy projects, including smaller solar projects, while maintaining a safe and reliable grid. And we are sharply reducing greenhouse-gas emissions that result from burning tens of thousands of gallons of fuel each year as we drive across the state to read meters.
How do we know the new meters will be accurate?
Meter accuracy is just as important for us as it is to you. Meters are carefully tested to be sure they work properly. The manufacturer tests every meter before it is shipped to us. We then test a sample of each meter shipment to double-check the accuracy and operation.
Will the new meter interfere with my wireless Internet service, or my cell-phone service?
The radios used in the new meters operate in the 902-928 MHz band under Part 15 of the Federal Communications Commission rules and regulations. We are confident that the meters will not interfere with home wireless networks, which are designed to operate without interference in the presence of other communication devices. Cell service operates in a different range of frequencies from the new meters, and is also unaffected.
GMP has installed tens of thousands of new meters. We have had no reports of interference with Wi-Fi or cell phones. We have had a handful of inquiries about interference with wireless dog fencing and driveway sensors. In each case that has been brought to our attention, we have been able to resolve the situation promptly.
If you have recently had a meter installed and have questions about its operation, please call Customer Service at 1-888-835-4672.
Smart meters use radio frequencies to communicate. Have there been any studies done on the safety of this?
Yes. There have been numerous peer-reviewed scientific studies on radio frequency signals to determine if there are any health concerns. In the case of the smart grid, the Federal Communications Commission regulates radio frequency signals, which are used in everything from garage-door openers and baby monitors to smart meters. The FCC and World Health Organization have judged smart meters to be completely safe for our customers and employees. The Vermont Department of Health concluded in February 2012 that the current regulatory standards are sufficient to protect public health.