Corporate

Smart Meter FAQs

About the Smart Meter

What is a smart meter?

Smart meters enable new ways for customers to conserve energy and improve Dominion's operations. The network of smart meters is referred to as Advanced Metering Infrastructure, or AMI.   Smart meters are the foundation to create a smart grid.

Smart meters may look similar to regular meters on the outside, but it’s what’s inside that makes a big difference.  Smart meters can be viewed as the latest technology upgrade – as all technology has evolved over the recent years, metering technology has also evolved. Smart meters are the latest technology advancement in the metering world.  Learn more about how metering technology has advanced.

What is the benefit of having a smart meter?

Because the meters communicate electronically, they reduce traffic and vehicle emissions in your neighborhood caused by reading the meter or turning on the meter for new customers.  Smart meters help provide better service – like improved delivery of energy, better power-outage detection, faster problem resolution and remote meter reading. 

How does the smart meter system work?

The smart meter is part of a system that enables remote two-way communication between the meter and Dominion.  The system uses radio frequency mesh technology to securely gather data from the meter.  The network access point (router) collects the data and periodically transfers the data to Dominion via a secure cellular network.  The routers are strategically placed in the field to ensure information is passed from its source to its destination as quickly and efficiently as possible.

View a picture of how smart meter communication works.
Why is Dominion upgrading meters?

Dominion is exchanging existing meters for new smart meters to continue to provide customers with reasonable rates and better service – like more reliable delivery of energy, better power-outage detection, more responsive problem resolution and remote meter reading.

What is a smart grid?

The U.S. Department of Energy states that a smarter grid applies technologies, tools and techniques available now to increase knowledge of making the grid work more efficiently.  A smarter, more efficient and reliable electric grid means better service for customers, benefits for the environment and lower costs in the long run.

Will I still need to contact Dominion if I have a power outage?

The smart meters help Dominion identify and respond to outages more efficiently.  However, it is still important for you to call 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357) and report your outage so that your information can be reported in our outage management system.  By calling in, you can help us identify safety hazards such as downed wire or provide specific information that will help Dominion restore power more efficiently.

Smart Meter Upgrades

Will I get a smart meter?

Customers will receive mail notifying them of the meter upgrade.  The mailing should arrive two to four weeks before the new meter will be installed.

View a map with smart meter locations to see when we will be in your area.

Where will Dominion Virginia Power place the smart meter at my house or business?

The meter will be placed in the existing meter base at the customer's location.

How big is the smart meter?

A smart meter fits into the existing size and shape of the meter base currently at your residence.  The “smart” components are inside the meter.

What should I expect the day of the smart meter upgrade?

At most sites, a field metering technician will be at your property for 10 minutes or less.  During this time, there will be a short interruption to the electric service.   View a video to learn more. 

The technician will wear a Dominion badge and drive a Dominion vehicle or a vehicle identified as an authorized contractor for Dominion Virginia Power.

How do I read a smart meter?

The Smart Meter has a digital LCD screen that cycles through three screens.  The 'kWh' screen is the most valuable screen to you. This is the total cumulative consumption reading of the smart meter at this location.  Use this reading in conjunction with your last bill to calculate your current usage. For example, if the meter reading on your latest bill was 1000 kWh and the current reading is 1200 kWh, then the difference of 200 kWh is how much electricity you used since your last meter reading.  Learn more about how to read a smart meter. 

Can I make an appointment for the meter upgrade?

We are scheduling appointments for smart meter upgrades where meter technicians may encounter an access issue.  In other instances, it is not necessary to schedule an appointment.

On the day of upgrade, the technician will knock on your door before beginning work and leave a door hanger if you are not home, indicating the exchange occurred earlier that day.

If you have questions about the meter upgrade project, call 866-566-6436.

Will a smart meter affect my bill?

No, it will not.  A smart meter measures the actual electric usage.

Smart meters capture meter readings more frequency, typically on a daily basis and reduces the need for estimation.   When a customer’s account comes time to bill, if there is a recent meter reading, that reading will be used to generate a monthly bill.  However, there may still be times that remote meter readings are not able to be captured in the window needed to generate the bill, resulting in an estimation.

Additionally, the smart meters have been tested under various conditions, and they show accurate readings.  If you experience an unexpected increase in your bill, it might be due to changes in your usage such as heating and cooling spikes or your purchase of additional electronic equipment, such as a large-screen television.  A customer who notices an unexplained significant change in the amount of electricity being used should contact Dominion.

What if I have a security alarm engaged during the meter upgrade?

Upgrading to a smart meter does require a brief power outage, which could trigger a security system alarm.   Security systems should have a battery backup that is designed to last for 8-12 hours in case of a power outage.  Of course, if the alarm triggers a call to police, you would need to verify that there isn’t an emergency at home. The usual process that you would go through with a typical power outage when it relates to their security alarm would be the same during a meter exchange.

Are there alternatives to receiving a smart meter?

Dominion has an option for customers who do not wish to have a fully functional smart meter installed at their home.  Dominion Virginia Power offers a Non-Communicating Meter Option, (Opt-Out).  The Non-Communicating meters are smart meters with both the two-way communications and data storage features disabled.

Smart meters offer customers many benefits that are not available with the use of a Non-Communicating Meter.

Comparing Meters

 

Smart Meter

Non-Communicating Meter

Remote outage detection

Yes

No

Remotely connecting and disconnecting your service

Yes

No

Pricing plans

Yes

No

For more information about the requirements of this option, click here.

To learn about the benefits of a smart meter or to learn about the Non-Communicating Meter Option, call 866-566-6436.

Can I purchase and install or remove my own meter?

No.  As part of the provision of electric service, customers are subject to the Company’s Terms and Conditions.  All meters are to be owned and operated by the Company.  Anyone who tampers or damages any metering device is putting themselves in danger.  These statements are meant to protect our customers, as electricity is an ever-present safety danger to persons not certified or instructed on how to appropriately handle electrical equipment.

Additional Question and Answers

How do radio frequency concerns relate to smart meters?

Radio frequency levels for smart meters are set by the Federal Communications Commission and the meters used by Dominion comply with the FCC standards.  Radio frequency levels measured from smart meters are well below the approved limits. 

How will Dominion prevent hackers from accessing meter data?

Dominion’s system is and will continue to be in compliance with standards on cybersecurity and privacy.  These include standards set by the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).   Our systems also comply with federal and state regulations.  Each meter has a unique encryption key/code. Learn more about how smart meters protect customer privacy. 

Dominion will receive detailed information on my electric usage. What will Dominion do with the information?

Smart meters measure total energy consumption and how much energy is being used, not how the energy is used.  Just as with information received from reading a standard meter, Dominion uses the information to manage customer accounts and uses aggregated data to develop load forecasts to help manage the business.  Dominion does not monitor how a customer uses energy.  The meter does not know what appliances are in use within a customer’s home.  Learn more about how customer privacy is protected.

Will Dominion sell or provide my account information to a third party for marketing or other purposes?

No.  Unless required in a legal proceeding or through a subpoena, the only way a third party can see or view your energy use data is with your permission.   A signed letter of authorization from you must be on file before we would move forward with any requests.  Learn more about how customer privacy is protected.

How accurate are the meters?

They are extremely accurate.   Meters are subject to strict design standards when they are manufactured.  Meters are tested by the manufacturer and those results are sent to Dominion.  Dominion has a procedure to select and test meters on a random basis both before and after putting them into service to confirm they operate satisfactorily.

The standards for smart meters must meet requirements set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). 

Why aren’t smart meters tested according to UL standards?

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) develops standards for consumer products like televisions, cell phones and blenders.  Smart meters aren’t sold as a consumer product.  Instead, smart meters are manufactured and tested under stringent standards set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). 

Environment  We’ve got a “green thumb” too! This icon indicates a message that promotes awareness about our environmental programs or provides you with information that helps you save energy, save money and live life a little greener.
NYSE : (April 24, 2014) D 71.52 0.46