US power and gas utility Consumers Energy plans to equip all of its customers with smart meters by December 2016.The development is expected to help the firm to improve its energy billing by eliminating estimated billing.
In addition to ensuring accurate billing, the new metering system will help customers reduce their power usage and costs.
Kathryn Burkholder, outreach coordinator for smart energy at Consumers Energy, commented: "It offers our customers the opportunity to go online and look at their hourly energy use.
"It gives us an opportunity to offer programs for our customers like a pre-paid program where they can pay as they go. There are lots of interesting programs available with the new meter technology," added Burkholder.
[quote] The utility company serving 6.6 million customers in Michigan said it will install the smart meters for its consumers in the towns of Parma and Concord by late August under the $750 million project.
The programme will also include the deployment of the new metering system throughout the rest of Jackson County in December, reported a local publication.
Consumers Energy said it believes that its $750 million project will save $1.8 billion. [Consumers Energy extends EnerNOC deal].
0.5% of the utility’s customers in three of the utility’s service areas have so far opted out of the programme.
Consumers Energy in network upgrades
In late January, the company said it expanded an automated metering infrastructure 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 utility’s gas distribution system by integrating communicating digital meter technology.
According to a press statement, Consumers Energy will install more than 630,000 smart gas communication modules to enhance efficiency and billing accuracy.
Itron said it believes that its smart gas solution will allow Consumers Energy to collect, deliver and manage more granular and timely gas data for improved system performance.
The gas meters will be installed for consumers connected to the utility's grid. [Consumers Energy steps up pace of Michigan smart meter rollout].
Previously, the two engaged in a contract to modernize utility’s electric system by integrating Itron’s Openway Smart grid solution utilising cellular communications.