Operational Excellence
October 2, 2023

Energy 101: What makes a smart meter smart

On behalf of Xcel Energy, hundreds of technicians are currently going door-to-door across Colorado, Minnesota, Texas and Wisconsin, installing smart electric meters on tens of thousands of homes and businesses. As of September 2023, they have installed nearly 1.5 million smart meters.  
The new digital meters are an important part of our advanced grid project — the next generation of the power grid — that will help us serve our customers better. The innovative technology will provide cleaner, safer, more reliable energy and give customers more options for managing their energy use. 
The advanced grid and new smart meters offer several specific improvements: 
  • Customers can access near real-time information about their energy use, which will give them more control over their energy use and new ways to save on their energy bills. 
  • System operators have more control and visibility into the grid, making our energy service even more reliable through faster power outage response. Some outages will be resolved without the need to send a crew, and customers will receive more timely outage information.  
  • Xcel Energy will have additional insight into clean distributed energy sources, such as rooftop solar, as well as customer-sited batteries and electric vehicle charging stations that will help with our planning and operations.  
Behind the meter 
We have built a secure two-way communications network to enable the flow of information between Xcel Energy, our system control centers and customers. The information collected from all our meters is used only for purposes directly related to providing customers with electric service. 
The smart meter measures the electricity consumption of a home or building and sends it to us, eliminating the need for manual meter reading or estimates, which is more efficient and accurate and helps reduce cost. Because of the two-way flow of information enabled by the network, combined with new advanced grid devices and sophisticated software, we’re able to share energy data with customers that gives them more insight into their electricity usage. 
While the smart meter can communicate with in-home devices, such as smart thermostats, we have no plans to use smart meters for conducting outages. 
Coming soon 
This fall we plan to launch My Energy Connection, a service that provides customers with real-time energy insights to help them to make more informed energy decisions and save money on electricity costs. A smart meter, home Wi-Fi and a mobile device are all that are required to start taking advantage of these new, real-time energy insights. 
The My Energy Connection mobile application will provide customers with near real-time meter data, energy usage and cost information. These capabilities empower customers to shift energy consumption behaviors, expand engagement with energy saving products and services, and help save money on electricity costs. 
Once it launches, My Energy Connection will be available for download in the Apple App Store and Google Play. 
What happens to all the old meters? 
Our partner for the project, Itron, is facilitating the disposal of old meters. About 672 tons of material was recycled from the project in 2022, with batteries, mercury-filled devices and other non-recyclable materials safely processed by waste vendors, according to our requirements.  
Smart meter installations for North Dakota, South Dakota, New Mexico and Michigan are scheduled to begin between 2024 and 2025. When the entire effort is complete by the end of 2025, nearly 3.9 million new meters will be installed across our eight-state service area. 
Learn more about other technologies that can deliver clean energy, improve reliability and help keep energy bills low for our customers in our Energy 101 series, including energy storage and clean fuels