I recently wrote a story on the growing popularity of so-called smart appliances that link into utility’s smart grid programs, allowing consumers to manage and cut down on their own power use.
By the end of this year, energy customers in much of Texas can expect the installation of close to 700,000 advanced smart electric meters and corresponding communications systems. Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC, the state’s largest utility company, and Landis+Gyr, a developer of energy management systems, have already installed more than 350,000 smart meters in Texas.
Oncor provides transmission distribution of electricity to nearly three million homes and businesses and operates 117,000 miles of transmission lines statewide. By 2012, the company expects to have replaced the 3.4 million residential and small commercial meters in its system
In the Dallas area, Oncor is collecting and transmitting electricity data in 15-minute intervals via home displays and smart thermostats for each smart meter installed. Benefits of the advanced metering system to consumers are clear: by using information about how they use power, they can choose to control their energy use, using more energy at off-peak hours, helping utilities supply a steadier flow of electricity, and resulting in an approximate 10 percent reduction in overall energy usage.
According to a study by Brattle Group, just a five- percent drop in peak demand on a national basis would eliminate the need for the installation of close to 600 infrequently used, high-emissions power plants, saving approximately $3 billion.
In early 2010, Oncor’s system will be expanded to link to a common web portal that will allow consumers to monitor consumption data, letting retail electric providers interact through the system with both the customers themselves and with the equipment.
Oncor spokesperson, Carol Peters, says
“Unlike traditional power companies, Oncor does not own any power plants; it simply moves the power to retail electric providers who compete for customers. There are eight regulated transmission businesses in Texas, and Oncor serves seven million people, just about one third of the state’s population.”
The company’s “Smart Texas Initiative” is one of the largest smart-grid build outs in the U.S. Oncor has been working toward the development of smart meters since 2006.
In order to help educate consumers on how to use the new technology, Oncor has launched an extensive customer education program that includes visiting cities across Texas and meeting with people face-to-face to answer question and explain the smart meter system.
While Oncor charges each customer in the service area $2.21 per month for an advanced meter installation, the resulting reduction in demand should allow consumers to save approximately $18 per month by 2012. Oncor will also provide free in-home monitors to low-income customers once the new meters are fully rolled out.
Article by Julie Mitchell appearing courtesy of Celsias