Electric utility companies have been making good progress upgrading their customer base with smart meters, and a new study shows that nearly one in three households now have a smart meter, up from one in four households just last September.
The Institute or Electric Efficiency (IEE) produced a report May with the results, and it projected that by mid-decade more than half the households in the US will have a smart meter.
“Our results show that electric utilities are committed to upgrading their customers’ meters as part of the industry’s overall goal to modernize the nation’s electric grid,” said Lisa Wood, IEE’s Executive Director. “By the end of this year, we predict that 22 electric utilities in 16 states will have smart meters installed system wide. The new smart meters are already benefitting customers.”
Susan Story, Southern Company Services’ CEO said, “With smart meters, we know when a customer doesn’t have power. Receiving this information in real time allows us to expedite our power restoration efforts and get the power back on sooner.”
The Benefits of a Smart Meter
Smart meters provide two obvious benefits — power notification and outage management — but they also provide benefits for the customer that may not be initially obvious.
For example, smart meters and smart rate plans set in place by Oklahoma Gas & Electric help manage peak demand and have deferred the need for an additional power plant.
“Smart meters have changed the way we interact with our customers, and how our customers view and use electricity,” Peter Delaney, Oklahoma Gas & Electric’s CEO, said. “Last year, over 90% of our customers on SmartHours, a peak sensitive time-of-use plan, saved money. Plans like SmartHours help us better manage peak demand and can defer the need for a new power plant this decade.”
Electric utilities are also providing customers the chance to use their smart meter to conserve electricity, set spending and usage goals, and receive notifications when their electricity usage is high.
“In parts of California and in Texas, for example, homeowners can go online to see how much electricity their home used in the previous day. This awareness prompts consumers to take steps to conserve,” said Wood.
Customers of NV Energy can now set usage or dollar amount thresholds and be notified when they go over. Initiatives such as this allow customers to better understand the electricity they are using and go a long way to helping conserve electricity.
“This is a voluntary industry effort to create a standard format for energy consumption data recorded by smart meters. As of May 2012, 21 utilities and electricity suppliers have committed to bringing the Green Button to 30 million customers. Today, about 10 million customers have access to their energy consumption data in the Green Button format,” said Wood.
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