Frequently Asked Questions

The following are a list of some frequently asked questions about the Energy Smart Community and related topics. 

Also check out NYSEG's Energy Smart Community FAQ sheet.

What is a smart meter? 

In general, a smart meter is a natural gas or electric meter that can digitally record the minute-to-minute electricity usage of a home or business and send that information wirelessly. The type of smart meters NYSEG has recently installed as part of the Energy Smart Community pilot, send customer's hourly gas and electricity usage information remotely to NYSEG-via a dedicated cellular network- four times each day. These smart meters enable a two-way communication between the meter and the grid system and are a common component of smart grid technology.

Why is NYSEG installing smart meters? 

 Smart meters help the utilities more accurately measure how much electricity is being used by customers, enabling greater system efficiency. They are part of a broader effort NYSEG is undertaking to test system upgrades to the electrical grid that may help meet the NY State Reforming Energy Vision goals. Advances in systems include upgrades to substations, circuits, meters, and grid management software.

What are the Benefits to the utility of a Smart Grid (and Smart Meters)?

  • Utilities are more quickly notified of power outages, can pin-point locations and restore service quickly.
  • More precise information allows utilities to increase overall system efficiency
  • Utilities can more easily implement different time-varying rates that encourage people to reduce peak demand, reducing fossil fuel consumption.
  • Reduce the number of meter reading vehicles on the roads which lowers fossil fuel consumption. 
  • Smart meter data increases the potential to connect more renewable energy to the electrical grid by creating a stronger infrastructure for home solar and other small-scale renewable to connect to the grid.

What are the Benefits to the customer of a Smart Grid (and Smart Meters)?

  • No more estimated reads
  • Shorter power outages
  • Online access to your detailed energy use information so you can make changes to reduce your energy use.
  • A simpler process to start or stop your electrical service when you move

NYSEG has also created an online tool called Energy Manager for customers to view their personal energy usage information, learn about new time-varying pricing plans, and get energy efficiency tips, products, and services.

See NYSEG's Energy Manager FAQ page for more info.

What is Peak Demand? 

Similar to "rush hour" on a highway, there is a daily increase in the amount of electricity demand from customers. Often this peak happens during weekday afternoon and evenings when many people are coming home from work or school and would all like to use electricity at the same time. This peak in demand causes utilities to purchase extra electricity, often at a much higher price, to meet this high demand. 

What does reducing peak have to do with reducing our use of fossil fuels? 

On a handful of days each year, typically on very cold or very hot days when many customers are using more electricity to stay warm or stay cool, there are super peaks that require the energy generated by Standby Plants or "Peaker" Plants. Standby plants are used to ramp up at a moments notice a few times a year to meet extreme peak demand. They tend to be generated by either natural gas or other fossil fuels in order to reliably ramp up quickly. Voluntarily shifting your electricity use to off-peak times can contribute to reducing how much fossil fuel our electrical grid has to rely on. 

What does reducing peak have to do with bringing more renewable energy sources online?

Because the amount of electricity solar and wind power generate varies depending on the weather or time of day, these renewable sources of energy cannot be relied upon to cover peak demand. In order to have an electric grid powered by 100% renewable energy, we have to not only reduce how much energy we consume, but also change our behavior so we don't use it all at the same time.

Locally peak energy use can typically occur between 2 pm to 8 pm weekdays. NYSEG is offering the Smart Usage Plan as an incentive to encourage customers to shift their energy use away from peak times. There are two components of the Smart Usage Plan which have different (but overlapping) peak times. Check out CCE-Tompkins' information page with details on the Smart Usage Plan.

Find out more about peak demand and other energy saving tips on our newsletter page.

Are the smart meters available to all NYSEG customers?

Initially, smart meters have only been installed in 12,400 customers in the first Grid Update Area. Those households in the first Grid Upgrade Area received a letter from NYSEG explaining the process for installing the new meters. NYSEG expects to expand this program to all of their customers over the next few years.

Will smart meters save me money? 

Possibly.  NYSEG created an online tool called Energy Manager that lets you track your energy use throughout the month, create a savings plan, set usage alerts, and offer energy efficiency tips which can help you make decisions about reducing your energy use. 

What is the Smart Usage Plan?  

The Smart Usage Plan is a new pricing option for customers with smart meters that encourages people to shift their use of electricity to off-peak hours. It is a unique and complex rate with varied risks and benefits. Please check out our detailed Smart Usage Plan page for more information on how to determine if this is an advantageous plan for you.

Will my privacy be protected?

NYSEG has said that they apply the same privacy protection standards to all data they collect. They have said that they treat your personal information as confidential and they comply with all regulatory requirements of the Public Service Commission. They have more information on their Frequently Asked Questions website under Network and Data Security Section

Can I opt out of getting a smart meter if I want to? 

Yes, you will be able to opt out of receiving a smart meter, currently at no additional cost. NYSEG has said that if you choose to opt out, you will not be eligible for any of the enhanced services such as daily usage monitoring and the new pricing plans. In the next few years, when smart meters are deployed across all of NYSEG's service areas, there may be a fee to opt out. NYSEG's customer service number is 800.925.1559 if you would like to speak to a representative about opting out of a smart meter installation.

How will smart meters help increase the use of renewable energy?

The current grid was designed for the last century, where energy flow was one direction-from generation to transmission to distribution. Now, with the increase in home and community solar projects as well as other renewable options, there are thousands of points of small-scale renewable energy generation being added to the grid at varying levels each hour of the day. Smart meters and the associated infrastructure keeps precise track of how much is being generated and how much is being used each hour of the day. While the smart meter infrastructure does not guarantee an increase in local renewable energy, it is a helpful step towards hosting future renewable energy developments. 

What will this do for me if I already have solar at my house?

Solar customers receive a meter that provides a two-way communication (energy delivered and energy received) to NYSEG through the Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI). Each hour's net consumption and net generation can be viewed on the new Energy Manager portal. Signing up for the smart usage plan will permanently alter the net metering agreement to a less advantageous agreement for the customer. The smart meters do not interact with a customer Solar system inverter. Read more about ESC Pilot Rates and Solar Accounts FAQs here.

Does the West Dryden Road Pipeline have anything to do with Energy Smart Tompkins?

Yes, there is a connection. In February 2017, NYSEG asked the New York State Public Service Commission review an alternate approach to the West Dryden Road natural gas pipeline. The approach is to replace the pipeline with the following plan: first, a compressor would be installed in the Town of Lansing to ensure a steady flow of gas delivery to existing customers. Second, creative solutions would be proposed to reduce natural gas use, and the existing moratorium on new natural gas customers in Lansing would be extended indefinitely. The Energy Smart Community provides an opportunity to increase the capacity of the grid to incorporate more renewable energy sources. This may help reduce natural gas use. Read more about it here.

Do you have a question that isn't answered here? Submit your question to Aislyn Colgan at and we will answer you directly.

Last updated July 15, 2019