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Connect Up

Get to know our infrastructure & technology project.

The PUD’s Connect Up program includes deploying new metering technology that will deliver an array of added benefits for customers and help the PUD become the Utility of the Future. The PUD has already built much of the infrastructure in preparation for the Connect Up program, including modernizing its substations, deploying automated devices on its distribution system and extending communication technology to critical points across its service territory.

Connect Up will focus on PUD customers, giving them new options to take control of their energy usage and lower their bills. The infrastructure and technology deployed through this program will empower customers and enable many benefits, including:

  • Outage detection: Customers will no longer have to call in their outage. The PUD will have the capability to know right away as soon as a customer’s lights go out.
  • Detailed energy usage: Customers will have detailed insight into how much energy they are using, allowing them to make informed decisions and save on their energy bill.
  • Flexible billing: Customers will be able to choose their billing date range, receive accurate 30-day billing and take advantage of pre-pay.
  • No more estimates: Customers will no longer receive an estimated monthly bill as the Connect Up program will make meter reading easier and more efficient. Today, estimated bills can occasionally occur due to weather or access issues.
  • Same-day reads: Reads will be obtained the same day a move-in or move-out is scheduled, providing accurate billing and expedited final bills.
  • New rate designs: Customers will be able to save money by using energy at different times or decreasing their energy usage to earn bill credits.
  • EV rates: Customers who own electric vehicles will be able to take advantage of cheaper rates if they charge their vehicle at night.

Connect Up is in the early stages. A team of PUD employees was formed in 2020 to begin studying, planning and budgeting for the project. The team is in the procurement and design phase of the project. Meter deployment is planned for 2023 and 2024.

Click here to view a tentative project timeline and watch the video below to hear the most recent project update:

In December 2021, the PUD unveiled its new “meter farm” at its Operations Center in south Everett. The meter farm is critical to the Connect Up program. It is a bank of more than a dozen advanced meters that are connected to the PUD through a network. It will be used to test and monitor how the meters work in real-time outdoor conditions.

The PUD’s Connect Up team will use the meter farm to test alarms, check connect and disconnect response and monitor how the meters stand up to the elements. The team will also change configurations and perform firmware upgrades before they are pushed out to any customer meters. It’s crucial the PUD performs these tests at the meter farm first to ensure that meters installed at customers’ homes or businesses are safe, secure and reliable.

How will the PUD protect my privacy?

The PUD takes seriously its responsibility to keep customers’ personal and sensitive information safe. The PUD’s Data Privacy and Cybersecurity programs work closely throughout the data lifecycle and commit to safeguarding your information by:

  • using privacy and security best practices
  • delivering robust privacy and security training; and
  • ensuring compliance with existing regulations and policies.

Meter data will be transmitted from the meter to the PUD using data encryption over a secure network. Personal Identifiable Information (name, address and account number) is not stored in the meter and will not be transmitted over the meter network. For more on data security and customer privacy, click here.

The PUD’s Board of Commissioners approved the Connect Up program on August 4, 2020. The Board continues to receive regular project updates and provide the Connect Up team with firm direction as the project moves forward.

Have questions or comments about Connect Up? Click on the button below to send your question.

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Frequently asked questions

What is the Connect Up program?

The Connect Up program is a multi-year infrastructure and technology improvement project. The new metering infrastructure and technology are key to enabling the PUD to better serve its customers/owners in the future. The benefits of the Connect Up Program include improved customer information and tools to better manage their account, more efficient outage restoration and improved reliability, improved rate designs to better meet customer needs and preferences, the ability to offer Distributed Energy Resources like solar power and on-site energy storage and demand-side management programs like new rate designs, and increased energy efficiency/conservation options and renewable energy integration.

What are the infrastructure upgrades associated with Connect Up?

Connect Up will build new infrastructure on its distribution system such as routers and collectors, and upgrade meters to meters that use two-way communication tools to transmit data from customers’ meters to the utility. These new meters will allow the PUD to collect energy usage data directly from customers rather than dispatch meter readers to read each meter.

When will Connect Up begin installing meters?

The PUD is currently working to build the systems and network that will support the Connect Up program. The PUD’s deployment team has spent the past year preparing for meter deployment in 2023. Customers will receive physical and digital communications from the PUD in the months and days leading up to installation of their new meter. The PUD’s Board of Commissioners approved the project in August 2020 and continues to receive regular project updates as well as provide the team with firm direction.

Is this technology being used by other utilities?

Yes. More than 50% of the utilities in the U.S. have installed this type of distribution system infrastructure and technology. In the Northwest, 85% of the utilities – including Seattle City Light, Puget Sound Energy, Tacoma Power and Avista – have either installed these upgrades or are currently installing them. Costs of this infrastructure and technology has decreased in recent years.

What would this project look like for PUD customers?

Connect Up it is not scheduled to begin deploying meters until 2023 at the earliest. During the deployment of meters, each customer’s meter would be upgraded from the old PUD meter to an advanced meter. Once the meter is installed, PUD customers will be able to take advantage of a selection of benefits, with more benefits rolling out over time.

What if I don’t want an advanced meter (opt-out)?

The PUD’s Board of Commissioners recently approved a Connect Up opt-out policy for customers. Customers who do not want a communicating meter will receive an advanced meter with the communication radio disabled and will be charged a monthly fee of $25.

PUD customers who live in multi-unit residences with more than four units, water customers, commercial and industrial customers, and Hat Island residents are not eligible to opt out of the Connect Up program.

Eligible customers must be approved to opt out of the PUD’s Connect Up program. They will have the opportunity to apply to opt out when they receive their written notice approximately 90 days prior to installation.

Is this new metering technology safe?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has concluded that no adverse health effects have been demonstrated to result from exposure to low-level radio frequency energy such as that produced by advanced meters. To further reduce concerns, advanced meters transmit RF energy only for short periods each day. They emit a low level of radio frequency energy that is both FCC-approved and lower than the level of RF energy emitted by many other devices that are used daily by millions of people.

Answers by Mr. Richard Tell, RF expert, to Commission questions (click to view)

How is the PUD planning to pay for this project?

The PUD is exploring options to pay for Connect Up, which has shown to have a positive financial return over the life of the project. The PUD has been in a sound fiscal position for several years and will potentially finance the project through bond issuance to take advantage of low-interest rates. The PUD has no plans to raise rates to pay for Connect Up.

In the future, one of the benefits of Connect Up could be an easing of rate pressure for customers through favorable rate designs, energy-efficiency integration and demand response programs.

If the program has a positive return on investment, what will happen to that money?

The PUD is a customer-owned utility and not-for-profit organization. That means all revenue earned or saved by the PUD through higher efficiencies or innovative programs goes back into operations, improving safety, reliability and affordability. Connect Up’s positive return on investment, which is scheduled to be realized over 20 years through decreased equipment costs and increased operational efficiencies, will result in delayed possible rate increases in the future and allow customers to take advantage of lower rate options.