An advanced meter is a communication device that attaches to the analog gas meter. Your gas usage is still measured the same way it is today, but with the advanced meter communication device, it is automatically and securely transmitted to our customer service and billing center. With this upgrade, you will have access to more frequent and detailed information about your gas consumption, enabling you to have better control over your energy usage and save money.
The advanced meter technology upgrade is a natural step in our evolution of service, and will result in operational and environmental savings, which will be passed on to our customers over the life of the project.
California's energy policy supports development and implementation of cost-effective advanced metering systems. Advanced meters provide customers with information and tools to make educated decisions about gas use, which can lead to increased conservation efforts and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
Once fully installed, the advanced metering system will also enable SoCalGas to eliminate carbon-intensive business practices such as removing 1,000 service vehicles off the road each day and eliminating close to 7 million miles driven each year to read meters. Both through customer conservation efforts and reduced vehicles off the road, we expect to reduce approximately 140,000 tons of CO2 emissions each year.
SoCalGas will upgrade nearly six million natural gas meters across our 20,000 mile service territory with the communication device. This includes all residential and business customers. Installations will start in late 2012 and run through 2017. You will be notified several weeks in advance of the installation.
SoCalGas' advanced meter differs from most electric utility "smart meters" in several ways. First, the advanced meter installation consists of applying 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 2 minutes total per year) to securely transmit your gas usage data. Advanced meters do not communicate with other meters, or with appliances in the home. Finally, advanced meters cannot turn on or turn off your gas service.
The advanced meter communication device is powered by two special AA batteries, similar in technology to those used in pacemakers. The communication device is off most of the time. It only turns on for a fraction of a second per day (less than 2 minutes total per year) to securely transmit your gas usage data. We expect the batteries to have a life span of 20 years, however, if necessary, Southern California Gas Company will replace the batteries at our expense.
No. The new advanced meter technology will not have remote shut-off capabilities. However, by having more frequent and detailed access to your own gas usage information, you can identify sudden usage spikes that could indicate a leak. In any or all instances, if you suspect a gas leak, please contact SoCalGas at 1-800-427-2200 immediately.
SoCalGas supports customer choice and recognizes that some residential customers may prefer not to have an advanced meter installed and would rather have the gas meter manually read each month. If you do not want an advanced meter installed, you should immediately call our Customer Contact Center at 1-800-427-2200 and request to be added to the “advanced meter deferral list.”* If you defer installation now, SoCalGas will contact you once the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has ruled on our advanced meter opt-out program. You can decide at that time, based on the rate approved by the CPUC, whether you want to formally opt-out and pay the applicable fees or allow the installation of an advanced meter at no incremental cost.
*Deferral list option applicable to residential customers only.
SoCalGas is offering employees educational assistance and career planning to help make the transition as smooth as possible. SoCalGas is also one of the only utilities to use their own employees, rather than contractors, to upgrade the metering technology, thereby potentially extending their transition time. Employees also have the opportunity to move into new jobs within the company now, before their positions are eliminated.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved a budget of $1.05 billion for the project from 2010 through 2017 to retrofit and replace an estimated six million natural gas meters with the wireless communications device. It is estimated that this upfront investment may yield operating and environmental benefits of more than $3.5 billion which will be passed on to customers over the life of the project.
The cost of advanced meters, as with all meters or equipment purchased by SoCalGas, is part of our regular business expenses and is recovered in rates. There is no separate line item for advanced meters. At its peak, the cost is about $2 per month and this cost will go down over time.