Smart meters revolutionizing how Consumers Energy communicates with its customers

Feb 14, 2017

“Recently Consumers Energy installed a smart meter on my home, and I’ve been learning firsthand about how it gives me more information about – and greater control of – my home energy use,” Kirk Heinze says on Greening of the Great Lakes as he welcomes the company’s outreach coordinator for the Smart Energy program Kathryn Burkholder to the show.

The company began installing smart meters in 2012 on the west side of the state, she says. They’ve worked their way north and east since then and currently have installed over 1.4 million electric meters and 400,000 gas communication modules for customers who get both their energy and gas from the company.

“This technology really makes us able to give our customers an accurate bill every month no matter what it’s like outside or how hard a meter might be to get to,” Burkholder says.

She dispels the notion that the radio frequency on which they operate can cause potential health problems, particularly for children.

“All the tests we’ve done show that the type of technology we’re using – and we’re the first large utility in the United States to use the Verizon Wireless network to get our information - only sends us one text type message from the meter to us that gives us the data we need for our customers. That amount of radio frequency – that one text message in the middle of the night – is equivalent to that of a baby monitor. And the meter is on the outside of your house. There is no danger to this whatsoever.”

She also says that no personal data is at risk through the meters either. She adds that Mother Nature is a bigger threat to Consumers Energy’s customers than cyber security issues.

“We have everything in place to keep our customers’ information safe and secure.”

The smart meter has no impact on other electrical devices in the home, she adds, and the company would only interact between the meter and the home if the customer has given the permission to do so through a program like Peak Power Savers program.

Greening of the Great Lakes airs inside MSU Today Sunday afternoons at 4:00 on AM 870.