Oklahoma settlement paves way for smart grid rollout


Peter Delaney,
Chairman, President
& CEO, OGE Energy
Oklahoma City, OK, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — July 29, 2009 – A settlement agreement has been reached by the parties in the Oklahoma Gas and Electric (OG&E) rate case, paving the way for the rollout of smart metering and a smart grid.

OG&E requested a $110 million annual rate increase. The settlement agreement calls for an annual rate increase of $48 million, with changes to the fuel cost formula to help offset the impact on consumers. It is estimated that the average residential consumer (1,500 kWh/month) will pay slightly less (an average of 63 cents/month) under the settlement for at least the first year.

OG&E plans to install 42,000 new digital meters across the city of Norman by next summer. During the same time, about 2,200 Norman residences will be equipped with new programmable thermostats and energy use devices to help customers track and control their electricity use.

“More than just new technology, OG&E’s smart power initiative will transform the way we operate and interact with customers,” said Peter Delaney, OGE Energy Corp. chairman, president and CEO. “Our Positive Energy philosophy, which includes smart power, is all about empowering our customers, giving them choices about how they use energy while encouraging them to use it wisely.”

In part because of its significant student population, Norman has a large number of meter-based changes in service that today 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.

The Norman project is an expansion of OG&E’s 2008 smart power demonstration project in northwest Oklahoma City. In that project, 6,600 digital meters were installed and a test group of 25 residences were equipped with in-home energy-tracking devices.

The pilot program tested a secure, wireless network that provided two-way, real time communication with digital meters, programmable thermostats and touch screen information panels. Touch screen information panels and programmable thermostats allowed customers to better understand how and when they used electricity and adjust consumption as needed.

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.