Central Maine Power’s (CMP) smart grid project has produced advancements in customer services, improvements in meter operations, and lesson learned that will be used for guiding future smart grid projects, according to a new case study from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Because of the positive results so far, CMP is planning follow-on smart grid investments.

CMP was the recipient of Smart Grid Investment Grant funding for its smart grid project, which involves territory‐wide installation of smart meters, information and communications systems to support automated data collection and processing, and customer research to evaluate several new customer‐facing programs.

All customers have access to a web portal that enables them to monitor their consumption and costs. CMP also provided a test group of 3,000 pilot program participants with weekly bill alerts that showed how much electricity they used and its corresponding cost. About 70% of the participants said they took actions to reduce their usage after receiving bill alerts. Overall, the participants lowered their electricity consumption by about 1.8%. About two‐thirds of the participants expressed interest in continuing in the program and CMP is currently assessing whether or not to continue and expand the program to all interested customers.

The most significant cost savings from replacing electromechanical meters with smart meters result from the new ability to read meters automatically and accomplish remote service connections and disconnections. For example, in 2013 CMP saved about $6.7 million from these new capabilities, and they also enabled CMP to avoid 121,000 truck rolls in 2013, which was a 97% decrease compared to 2012.

CMP’s smart meter program has also decreased the number of estimated bills. For example, in
2010, before smart metering, CMP had to estimate more than 309,000 bills due to inclement weather and other normal anomalies associated with manual meter reads. In 2013, after smart metering, CMP had to estimate about 29,000 bills, a reduction of more than 90%. Similarly there was a 50% reduction in 2013 of the number of calls from customers with high bill concerns.

Among the lessons learned from the project are that successful implementation involves addressing uncertainties and unanticipated issues, and managing relationships among multiple stakeholder groups including its own staff and customers. Needs include continual and effective communications  with customers about smart meters and how the meters  can be used to save money, comprehensive tests of equipment and systems to mitigate systems integration and operational problems, and use of management systems for effective vendor and process oversight.

View the case study HERE.