Natural gas and electricity utility Consumers Energy in the US has announced that it will complete upgrades to its final 550,000 gas and electric meters in Michigan.The utility’s meter installations are concentrated around 10 Michigan counties, with upgrades in Midland Bay as well as Ingham and Eaton counties. The upgrades will begin in the summer of this year for Clinton, Clare, Gladwin, Gratiot, Isabella and Shiawassee counties, notes a release.
Remaining installations in other counties will also be completed in 2017. Consumers’ gas and electric customers will be able to view their hourly energy use online.
The release adds that customers can also receive automated alerts when usage is higher than normal and alert Consumers whenever there's a power outage.
Consumers Energy has already installed 1.3 million electric and 350,000 gas communication modules.
"These upgraded meters provide a clear customer benefit," said Garrick Rochow, Consumers vice president, in a press release. "(This gives) homes and businesses a powerful tool to better manage their energy usage."
The utility began the project in installing electric smart meters near Grand Rapids in 2012.
Consumers Energy accelerates rollout
In a release last year, Consumers Energy claims that the smart meters that had been installed have allowed its customers to manage their power and gas usage sustainably through the provision of real time insights on usage online. [Consumers Energy extends EnerNOC deal].
"The electric meter sends us a message that displays energy use for each home and business for the day," said Garrick Rochor, Consumers Energy's senior vice president of distribution and customer operations.
Garrick highlighted the importance of smart meters toward enhancing the utility’s real time grid management, and providing customers with timely notifications should there be a power outage.
Furthermore, in relation to accuracy in power billing, the system is expected to help the power utility to settle its disputes with farmers using electricity for irrigation, who have had bill disputes with the utility over estimated bills in the past.
In late January, the utility expanded its AMI rollout contract with Itron to improve its customer service and energy service reliability
Under the expanded deal including a 20-year maintenance agreement, Itron will upgrade the utility’s gas distribution system by integrating communicating digital meter technologies.
Previously, the two had engaged in a contract to modernize the utility’s electric system by integrating Itron’s Openway smart grid solution utilising cellular communications.