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Smart Meter Program FAQs

For the first three FAQs defining smart meters, go back to the main Smart Meters page.

What are some of the benefits of smart water meters?

Once the new customer portal has been fully integrated into our system (this is a separate process from installing the actual meter), Smart Meters will allow you to:

  • Check your water use – ANY TIME.
  • Sign up for leak alerts to keep you in the know.
  • Help you use water more efficiently.  
  • Nearly eliminate inaccurate and estimated bills and reflect actual water use. 

In addition, you’ll have 24/7 access to:  

  • An online portal where you can see hourly water use data and billing information.
  • Leak detection notifications, customizable alerts for unexpected or high-water use, and the ability to create water budgets. 
  • Water use history and data from your smart phone, tablet or computer.
  • Current estimated timeframe for portal to be online is the end of 2024.
Is water use data available even if the new customer portal isn’t ready and fully integrated into SJW’s billing system? 

YES. If a smart meter has been installed but the portal is not yet available, SJW’s Customer Service team can pull up water use data and provide the information to you. Portal readiness is estimated to be Fall of 2024.

Why is SJW installing smart meters? 

Smart metering will transform how we operate — benefiting our customers and employees. It will also nearly eliminate inaccurate and estimated bills and help us move from bi-monthly billing to monthly billing cycles.

Can Smart Meters tell you how I use my water? 

No. Smart meters can only measure when and how much water is being used, but not how it is being used.

When will the Smart Meter project be complete?

Prior to beginning deployment, SJW needs to fully prepare and test the required infrastructure and data interface systems and receive the required materials and inventory to keep the project moving forward without any interruption due to supply and demand challenges. With all of these factors, the project in its entirety will likely take around 3 years to complete. The “clock” begins during the Summer of 2024 for the first meters to be installed.

What is the process for determining the location schedule for installing Smart Meters? 
  • Reviewing which routes pose safety issues for the installers:
    • We are analyzing which routes are the most difficult to read.
  • Completion of network infrastructure installation: 
    • Not all infrastructure will be ready at the same time which will likely influence the initial rollout.
  • Number of addresses per route:
    • Numbers will increase when the project is fully ramped-up.
  • Anticipated pace of the installer:
    • Deployment will start at a significantly slower pace to identify any changes in processes that need to be implemented.
  • Routes are designed in roughly 3-to-6-month increments: 
    • Allows for adjustments in plans throughout the course of the ~3-year implementation.
When will I (customers) get a smart water meter?

Completing all the required steps that lead up to and through the deployment of smart meters that will impact ~230,000 customers is expected to take approximately three years.

How will I be able to check my water use data?

Once the customer portal is active (estimated date is Fall 2024), you’ll be able to sign in to your account to view and pay your bill, track your water use, sign up for alerts and notifications, and contact us if you have any questions or concerns. Your smart meter will allow your water usage information to be fully integrated into our billing system. This information will be available to you 24/7. 

How can I save money with smart metering?

Smart meters monitor your water usage in near real-time (there is a slight delay between when the water usage is read and when it is conveyed to SJW). This means you can use the information to determine if you have a leak, set up customized alerts for high water use, and establish a water budget. 

According to the EPA, even minor leaks from household items like toilets, faucets, and washing machines can waste 180 gallons each week – and that can add up! 

Will my account information be secure?

Yes. Your meter has a specific geocode that notes its location. The water use information is transmitted through an integrated network technology solution. The only information that is transmitted is meter identification and usage/alert data. No customer information or personal identifiable data is transmitted.

Can I opt out of getting a smart meter?

Participation in the SJW smart metering project gives you access to water use data that can help save money in addition to automatic alerts indicating unusual water use.

That being said, customers are able to opt out of this program, but there are some fees associated with manually reading your meter each month on top of your normal charges for water service. Currently the projected fees are:

  • Monthly Manual Meter Reading Fee: $25
  • Removal/Re-Installation of AMI Meter: $36 (one-time fee applied per action)
Will water rates increase because of smart meters?

There will be a cost to deploy AMI throughout the service area and we anticipate the monthly bill at full deployment in 2027 to increase by approximately $3/month for the typical residential customer. How to Read Your Bill.

When fully implemented, the benefits of AMI include: 

  • Customer access to water usage, 24 hours a day
  • Early leak detection notifications
  • High-use alerts
  • Ability to monitor and manage water use during periods of drought
  • Enhanced customer service 

This project is designed in part to help SJW maintain operational efficiency — containing our cost of doing business, while still providing high quality service to our customers.  The cost of treating and distributing water is increasing and this technology will help us to blunt the rising cost of delivering safe and reliable service. 

It also helps customers by providing more clarity on their usage at any time through a convenient web portal and early notification of unusual consumption patterns that are likely a result of leaks. The average home has leaks totaling about 10%-15% of its usage. The early notification provides customers with timely information so they can address the problem quickly and not be surprised when they receive their bill. The data can also be used to help customers manage their consumption and avoid costly drought surcharges when water budgets are in place to curtail usage for future droughts.

How will I know when I’m getting my new smart water?
  • SJW will be sending out notifications letting you know when to expect your new meter. 
  • A letter will be sent to the account holder about a month or so prior to the meter being installed/retrofit. 
  • A follow-up postcard will be sent to the service address about 2 weeks prior to meter installation/retrofit. 
  • After the meter system upgrade, a doorhanger will be left at the service address containing details about the installation.  
Will I need to schedule my smart metering installation appointment?

Residential Customers: No. Residential customers do not need to schedule their smart meter installation or need to be home to have the new smart meter installed. 

Commercial / Multifamily Customers: Yes. To avoid business interruptions, commercial/multifamily customers will be contacted directly to coordinate when their meter will be replaced.

How will I know if I have the new smart metering system installed inside the meter box?

There will be a black “mushroom cap” embedded into the lid. This indicates that the lid is now connected to the new smart metering system.

Can I still open the meter box and check my meter reading if I have a smart metering system installed?

The meter box lid is now connected to the smart metering system by a wire. Lifting the lid can damage this connection and cause the equipment to stop working. We recommend that you avoid opening the box. However, if the lid must be removed, it should be lifted carefully and placed on its side so the connection between the lid and the smart metering components is not disturbed. When the lid is replaced, make sure that the wire is not crimped.

It's extremely important not to damage these wires. In the event of damage to the equipment, including but not limited to the meter box, lid, or any smart metering components, SJW will repair or replace all affected equipment at your expense. Additional damage or tampering fees may also be assessed. SJW is not liable for any personal injuries or damage to your equipment and/or facilities.