ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Technicians with Rochester Gas & Electric are hard at work installing approximately 80,000 smart meters across the area, so far.

RG&E anticipates every customer in its service areas will receive the new electric standard smart meter or natural gas module within the next two years.

“This is one of the biggest projects RG&E has gone through in basically decades,” said Steve Eckerson, lead analyst for field customer service. “So it's huge. It's a three- to four-year project. And so everybody is going to get involved in some way, shape or form.”

Enabling monthly bills to be based on use instead of manual readings or estimates, these meters help consumers more closely monitor their electricity usage and reduce consumption to cut costs if needed.

“This is great for your billing,” Eckerson said. “You get actual reads. You don't have to worry about estimates. You can make adjustments during the season. You can see where your usage is.”

Allowing residents like Wanye Coyle to monitor his home's energy use for the first time in 20 years, as the data transmits back to the company. 

“A lot of times when they estimated, I think it's higher than it should be because if it's a higher bill than the actual reading, then I'm going, 'well, where are they getting that from?'” Coyle said. “Now they’ll be able to read it and it’ll actually be proper so I’m okay with that.” 

With temperatures going down, that, in turn, can drive electricity bills to go up, but as RG&E moves to a smarter energy infrastructure, they hope every customer can make more informed decisions about managing their energy use. 

“I just got my energy bill yesterday,” Coyle said. “So it was lower than last month and I don't know how that is because I put the heat on a little bit over the last couple of weeks. It's easy to read. Well, I've used a lot this month, I figure maybe I ran the dishwasher more, maybe I ran the washer and dryer more. We're all in the same boat. It's just what it is. It's on. They're going to start it and we're going to pay the bill just like normal.”