Idaho Falls Power is thinking "smart". Tonight kicks off the "Smart Grid" series, discussing possible transitions of utilities from analog to digital. The first utility up for discussion of going digital is the energy meter.
Idaho Falls Power is installing for free 2,000 "smart" meters across the city. One benefit of the "smart" meter is that home owners and business managers will be able to monitor their electricity consumption over a 24 hour basis instead of getting one monthly statement in the mail.
"The smart meter is a window into your behavior with power," said Marv Serhan, the Vice President of the Association of Energy Engineers for the west coast. He says this device may be able to help you save money.
"If you're running your water heater that's runs on electricity during the peak part of the day and paying more money for it, now you can make a decision, and shift that power usage to some other time frame," said Serhan.
In addition, the Idaho Falls Power will also be able to receive a 24 hour consumption reading of each building.
This will help Idaho Falls Power buy energy more efficiently, cut out the costs of meter readers, and locate power outages the instant they occur.
But some folks question the health effects from the radio frequencies of the "smart" meters and whether the device poses an invasion of privacy.
"From a cyber security perspective, we're really reading how much power is being consumed. All those transmissions are encrypted. So no one can really penetrate and read the usage. The meter is not on 24/7-- the meter is only for mere seconds. It's not putting out quite as much energy as anything else out there," said Serhan.
Serhan says the smart meter is less electromagnetic radiation than a cell phone. And he will be here tonight to discuss more in depth any concerns or questions the public has on the "smart" meter.
The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Center for Advanced Energy Studies complex. That's on University Boulevard in Idaho Falls. If you want to participate in this study, you can get a smart meter for free.