Oklahoma City, OK, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — March 2, 2009 – The city of Norman in central Oklahoma is to become OG&E’s first Positive Energy(R) Community and will be among the first cities in the United States to be equipped with new smart meters and in-home programmable thermostats.
Under a plan filed by OG&E the company plans to install 42,000 new digital meters across Norman over the next two years. At the same time, about 2,000 Norman residences will be equipped with programmable thermostats and energy use devices to help customers track and control their electricity use.
The proposal will be considered by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission along with OG&E’s rate case. In its filing, OG&E is asking the Commission to recover the cost of the project. A ruling on the proposal is expected this summer.
The Norman project is an expansion of OG&E’s 2008 smart power demonstration project in northwest Oklahoma City, in which 6,600 digital meters were installed and a test group of 25 residences were equipped with in-home energy tracking devices.
OG&E’s Positive Energy smart power program tested a secure, wireless network that provided two-way, real-time communication with digital meters, programmable thermostats and touch-screen information panels.
"While some other utilities have installed advanced meters, OG&E is the first utility to test the in-home programmable thermostats and touch-screen information panels in customers’ homes," said Ken Grant, managing director of marketing for OG&E.
Customers using the in-home devices during the 2008 test saved about 10 to 15 percent on their electric bills by lowering their overall electricity use and by shifting some of their demand for electricity to times of the day when the rate for a kilowatt hour was lower.
Smart meters integrate in-home technology with advanced technology in OG&E’s electricity distribution system. The program gives customers tools to reduce periods of peak demand for electricity, which will help the company meet its objective of delaying construction of an additional natural gas or coal power plant until at least 2020.
OG&E Positive Energy, which also emphasizes customer education, is an integrated program that uses technology like smart meters, enhanced communication and in-home devices to benefit both OG&E and customers by saving energy and money.
"OG&E is proposing deployment of the Positive Energy Community program within the Norman city limits," Grant said. "In Norman, we have a community where we can manage the technology risks and costs and reach enough customers to provide valid data regarding energy use behavior. This will help us determine if it will be beneficial to install smart meters in all the communities we serve in the years to come."
Norman, about 20 miles south of downtown Oklahoma City, has a population of more than 100,000 and is home to the University of Oklahoma, which has 23,000 students on its Norman campus.
In part because of its significant student population, Norman has a large number of meter-based changes in service that require OG&E field personnel and vehicles to be dispatched thousands of times a year. Automated meters will allow these transactions to be accomplished in seconds rather than hours or days. This will be more convenient for customers and more cost effective for the utility.
OG&E, a subsidiary of Oklahoma City-based OGE Energy Corp. (NYSE: OGE), serves more than 770,000 electric customers in a service area spanning 30,000 square miles in Oklahoma and western Arkansas.