Residents in NJ are getting incorrect letters from utility company
💡 Letters about installing smart meters were sent to PSE&G customers in error
💡 The utility has installed 1.4 million smart meters since 2021
💡 Do you have to get one?
PSE&G admitted that letters sent to customers about the installation of smart meters were a mistake.
The letters told customers a smart meter was supposed to have been installed at their home but a new appointment needs to be made because it was inaccessible. Recipients who tried to call a phone number on the letter said they could not get through while others said they already had a smart meter installed recently.
"That letter was sent to you in error, as we have not yet attempted to install a smart meter at your premises. Please disregard that letter, and we apologize for any confusion this error may have caused," a follow-up email says.
Utility really is installing smart meters
Fred Daum, executive director of customer operations for PSE&G, told New Jersey 101.5 that the company has been installing smart meters since 2021 at the request of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.
About 1.4 million smart meters have been installed so far and the utility expects to replace 2.3 million meters by the end of 2024. Smart meters have big benefits for customers, according to Daum.
"A smart meter actually communicates through a network back to the utility. And it communicates things such as a customer's interval usage, meter reads, it can let us know if it was power, it can let us know if it regained power, lets us know if there's a high-temperature condition there," Daum said.
The benefits of smart meters
The smart meter will allow customers to get more information about their electricity use via PSE&G's My Meter dashboard. It also means the end of estimated bills and more efficient power restoration following storms.
When a customer's area is ready for smart meter installation they will receive a letter from Contract Callers, the vendor that completes the job that they will come out within 45 days. There's nothing a customer needs to do although power will briefly be cut during the installation.
"If customers aren't home we leave a door hanger and let them know that we changed the meter. And one thing that they should know is that we always do knock before we change the meter and let the customer know that we're there," Daum said.
Customers can also make an appointment especially if their meter is located indoors. Installers always have an ID indicating they are working with PSE&G.
Are smart meters required?
Daum said the smart meters are not spying on residents.
"It's an extremely secure network that's just used to communicate this information. The customer owns their data. We're not examining anybody's data for any type of usage patterns or anything like that," he said.
And if someone just doesn't want to upgrade their meter for whatever reason, that's fine, too.
"The customer can opt out. And to do that they would go on our website. They can send us a message or give us a call and let us know that they would like to opt out," Daum said.
"We have very, very few customers that have opted out, which is extremely encouraging for us. Because that lets us know that a lot of customers really want to engage with this technology and save money."
Customers who choose to opt out of getting a smart meter before installation will be charged a $12 monthly fee starting in 2024 to cover the cost of manual meter reading, according to the PSE&G website. If a customer wants to have a smart meter removed after installation they will also be assessed a one time $45 meter change out fee.
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