Dominion: Smart meters coming to Suffolk by Dec. 31

Published 4:43 pm Friday, June 16, 2023

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Dominion Energy customers in Suffolk who don’t already have a smart meter affixed to their homes should get one by Dec. 31, according to a map of the company’s planned three-year rollout.

Justin Pope, a state and local affairs representative from Dominion’s Chuckatuck office, updated Isle of Wight County supervisors on June 15 on the progress of the company’s buildout.

As of June 15, Dominion had completed 78% of its deployments across Virginia and North Carolina, or roughly 2.1 million meters. By the same date, the Chuckatuck office had completed roughly 40% of the local buildout, Pope said.

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Smart meters, he explained, will allow Dominion to remotely collect electricity usage data from customers rather than send someone in a truck to physically read each meter. The new meters will also offer customers the ability to log into their Dominion accounts online and view their electricity usage by month, day and 30-minute intervals, and billing associated with that timeframe. They will also instantly alert Dominion in the event of a power outage.

“When your power goes out, we will know it,” Pope said.

The meters work by communicating with routers that are installed on power lines throughout the area, which will then relay that data to Dominion.

The new meters won’t increase residents’ power bills, Pope contends, despite what some area residents have been told by the third-party installers Dominion is using.

Board of Supervisors Chairman William McCarty said he was told by the third-party installers that the old meters “didn’t pick up when you had your cellphone plugged up in your house,” but that the new meters would.

That is false, Dominion Manager Robin Massanopoli assured, noting the June 15 meeting was the first time she’d heard of an installer making that particular claim. She has, however, received other reports of installers telling residents that there is a fee should they decline the new smart meter, which she said is also false.

“The crews we are using do work for other utilities across the country that may have different rules in place from Dominion,” Massanopoli said.

While all residents will be upgraded to a new digital meter, they do have the option of declining the smart version that allows Dominion to remotely pull usage data. Those who decline the smart meter will continue to have their meters read in-person by Dominion personnel. Since there is no fee at present for in-person meter reading, there is no charge associated with declining a smart meter, Pope and Massanopoli said

“If there is a situation where you’ve noticed a substantial increase in your bill and something does not look right, please let us know,” Pope said.

There are just under 42,000 Dominion customers in Suffolk. Another roughly 3,500 are served by Windsor-based Community Electric Cooperative. The smart meter program will affect only Dominion customers.