City in Oklahoma to Get Digital Meters
August 11, 2010
Public Service Co. of Oklahoma has announced a pilot project to convert its electric distribution system in the city of Owasso to new digital technology.
All of the utility's customers in and around Owasso will be included in the changeover to the "GridSmart" system, which is designed to improve reliability and safety, and provide customers with information about and control over their energy use and electric bills.
The digital system "represents the next generation of technology we will use to serve our customers," said Stuart Solomon, PSO's president and chief operating officer, in a news release. "The smart-grid technology is a game-changer that will provide customers with more information and control over their energy use and electric bills than they’ve ever had, and it will significantly improve the reliability of our distribution system, which means fewer and shorter power outages. We are very excited about our project in Owasso."
The pilot project involves the installation of digital meters at customers’ homes and businesses, along with a two-way, secure wireless communications network on the utility company's facilities. PSO also will install automated power restoration equipment on its distribution lines.
This new system is designed to provide a number of benefits, including:
- Improved reliability, with fewer power outages, and shorter durations of outages that do occur. In addition, the digital meters will pinpoint outage locations so repairs can begin faster.
- Ability to view energy usage in near real-time. Customers may voluntarily choose to have a digital display device installed in their homes and businesses that will show their current energy use and its cost, along with their usage history. The information can help consumers take steps to cut energy use and possibly reduce their electric bills. Today, customers can only determine their energy usage after the fact through their monthly bill.
- Better customer service. Public Service Co. can respond faster to service requests, such as service connection and disconnection, because these operations will be performed remotely.
- Greater privacy. Digital meters are read remotely, so meter readers will no longer need to enter customers' property every month.
- All PSO customers included in the Owasso pilot project will have access through the company's website to a link where they can view their energy usage in greater detail, including 15-minute intervals.
- Work to install the communications network on PSO’s facilities is expected to begin this fall, with installation of digital meters at homes and businesses to start in late 2010 or early 2011. Conversion work is expected to continue into late 2011.
The total cost of PSO’s digital grid project in Owasso is about $17.9 million.
To fund the project, the utility obtained an American Reinvestment and Recovery Act low-interest loan worth $8.75 million from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. The ARRA loan was made through the U.S. Department of Energy’s State Energy Program. PSO also has been collecting $2 million per year from customers in rates since its last base rate case order in February 2009 to help fund the program.
PSO, a unit of American Electric Power, is an electric utility company serving about 531,000 customers in eastern and southwestern Oklahoma. Based in Tulsa, it is the largest provider of wind energy in the state. More information about the company is available at www.PSOklahoma.com.
American Electric Power is one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, delivering electricity to more than 5 million customers in 11 states. AEP ranks among the nation’s largest generators of electricity, owning nearly 38,000 megawatts of generating capacity.
Read this article on the SunPluggers website.