C-op general manager Avram Patt reports that WEC opted for meters that use the electrical wires to send data instead of radio frequency transmissions, which are still the source of controversy among some members of the public because of concerns over perceived health risks. Avram says the wired solution costs half as much as the RF technology and happens to be more effective in WEC’s rural terrain.
Vermont Electric Cooperative’s deployment also is of a wired system similar to what WEC intends to use when installation begins in June. Burlington Electric, on the other hand, is using wireless technology.
Vermont’s deployment is part of the Obama administration’s $3.5 billion effort to modernize the United States’ electric grid infrastructure, Vermont has received $69 million for the roll-out of smart meter technology throughout the state. WEC manager Patt considers the meter a vital tool even if they have been used as a political football at times.
“In some cases they were oversold as changing the world, and on the other hand, there’s been a lot said that’s negative that’s been a bit overhyped.” One function Patt believes is especially useful is that consumers who send power back into the grid with solar devices, sometimes referred to as net-metering, will be able to see exactly how much power they are generating, which is not possible with the current meters.