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Xcel Energy smart meters are coming to your home, so here's what you need to know

New Xcel Energy tool rolling out in Minnesota neighborhoods
New Xcel Energy tool rolling out in Minnesota neighborhoods 02:09

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- It all started with a postcard in the mail that told Pam Pommer she'd soon be getting a new utility meter installed at her home.

Pommer's first concerns, though, were more about logistics than mechanics.

"My irritation when I got [the postcard] was simply - how are they going to get in here," Pommer said about her fenced-in yard. "I have two dogs, so I'm not going to leave this gate open."

A few phone calls and a booked-appointment later, Pommer got her new meter installed which on the surface looks the same and performs the same function.

"When I am hot, the air conditioner is going to run," she quipped to WCCO. "Enjoy all my data about energy because I guess I don't really care."

Indeed, smart meters are new tool touted by the industry to provide cleaner, safer and more reliable energy in an "advanced grid."

"Your smart meter will give you the opportunity to see useful information about your energy use on My Account, giving you better insight and control of your energy use," the company states on its website. "New technology also makes it possible to restore power more quickly when outages happen."

According to the Edison Foundation, up to 50% of Minnesotans already have smart meters installed in their homes, while as many as 124 million customers nationwide will have them by the end of the year.

Xcel maintains that the meters, which deliver readings every five to 15 minutes, do not control which appliances turn on and when. The company also touts "multiple layers of security" to protect personal data.

"The world knows where we are with all the other smart devices. I'm sure Samsung knows everything I watch," Pommer joked. "The meters could be useful but right now it's not top of my list to worry about."

All customers will get a new meter, but Xcel does give customers the option to have their meter be a "non-communicating" device which could not be read remotely. A non-communicating meter, however, would incur an extra $15 per month charge.

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