Mississippi Power has secured a greenlight to install smart electric meters for customers in Pine Belt.
The Mississippi Public Service Commission has approved a proposal filed by the utility to deploy advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) for residential and commercial customers.
The AMI technology will be provided by Itron. The $39 million initiative is expected to last for 24 months.
The smart meters will allow Mississippi Power to remotely connect or disconnect services for customers.
The new system will also help reduce operational costs and improve the efficiency of the utility's energy billing system through remote meter reading, data processing and through elimination of manual meter reading.
Remote meter reading will eliminate human error and corruption associated with the manual process.
With regards to improving customer services, the smart meters will enable consumers to access real time energy usage data by logging onto the energy provider's website. Access to real time usage data will help consumers to identify energy efficiency potentials and optimise energy management. This will help reduce energy costs and the utility to sustain the reliability of grid networks.
The smart meters will enable new business models such as demand response and time-of-use for grid efficiency during peak periods, a development which would help expand portfolios of renewable energy assets, reduce carbon emissions and delay investments in new energy generation infrastructure.
"(Advanced Metering Infrastructure) will allow Mississippi Power to serve our customers more efficiently from an operational standpoint, which in turn, increases the value we provide to the communities we serve," said Nicole Faulk, vice president of customer services organisation.
Faulk said. "From real-time usage reporting to remote connect and disconnect and more, we will be installing meters that will help us enhance our customers' experience and prepare for emerging smart grid applications.
Mark de Vere White, president of Itron's Electricity business line, said the company was looking forward to working with Mississippi Power, which would be able to diagnose and handle problems and outages more effectually with the new meters.