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IEE Report Finds Growing Smart Meter Installations, Benefits
 
Electric utilities are making steady progress in upgrading their customers’ analog electric meters with digital ‘smart’ meters, according to the latest report from IEE, "Utility Scale Smart Meter Deployments Plans, & Proposals."  As of May 2012, IEE found that almost one-in-three households now have a smart meter.  This is up from about one-in-four households in September 2011.  By mid-decade, IEE projects that more than half the households in the country will have a smart meter.
 
Lisa Wood, IEE’s Executive Director, said, “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.   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.”
 
In addition to power notification and outage management benefits, smart meters also open the door to other customer benefits.  For instance, smart meters and smart rate plans are helping Oklahoma Gas & Electric manage peak demand and defer the need to build an additional power plant this decade.      
 
Peter Delaney, Oklahoma Gas & Electric’s CEO, said, “Smart meters have changed the way we interact with our customers, and how our customers view and use electricity.  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.”
Utilities are also using the smart meter data to help customers conserve electricity, set spending and usage goals, and receive notifications when 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.
 
Utilities like NV Energy have built easy-to-use tools, powered by smart meter data, to help customers set usage or dollar amount thresholds and be notified when their account exceeds the thresholds.  These tools empower the customer to understand their electricity usage and take action to lower their bill.             
Helping the customer make use of the data that is recorded and transmitted by smart meters is one objective of the White House’s Green Button initiative.  “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.

The IEE report shows utility-scale smart meter deployments by state and by utility.   For more information about the May 2012 IEE report on smart meter installations, please contact Adam Cooper, Research Manager, IEE, at 202-508-5551 or acooper@edisonfoundation.net.
 
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