Michigan utility to complete smart meter rollout by 2017

US power and gas utility Consumers Energy announced its plans to complete the deployment of smart meters to all its customers by the end of 2017.

To date, the utility has installed 1 million smart electric meters and 200,000 gas communication modules to enhance customer services and ensure accurate power and gas billing.

According to a local publication, the utility company serving 1.8 million gas and electric customers in the US state of Michigan, plans to install the new metering system in the Battle Creek, Branch county-Coldwater, Ludington, Saginaw, south Midland and in the Tawas region throughout 2016.

Customers of Consumers Energy in Hillsdale, Clare, Jackson, Lansing and north Midland areas will have their smart meters installed by 2017, to mark the utility’s completed deployment of the automated metering infrastructure (AMI).

[quote] The power company kick-started the rollout of the new metering system for its residential, small businesses and farms in 2006.

Energy efficiency

Consumers Energy claims that the smart meters 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.

Accurate metering and billing

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.

According to a press statement, Consumers Energy will install more than 630,000 smart gas communication modules to enhance efficiency and billing accuracy.

Itron believes its smart gas solution will allow Consumers Energy to collect, deliver and manage more granular and timely gas data for improved system performance. [US gas utility selects Itron for AMI upgrade].

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.


Image credit: youtube

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Nicholas Nhede is an experienced energy sector writer based in Clarion Event's Cape Town office. He has been writing for Smart Energy International’s print and online media platforms since 2015, on topics including metering, smart grids, renewable energy, the Internet of Things, distributed energy resources and smart cities. Originally from Zimbabwe, Nicholas holds a diploma in Journalism and Communication Studies. Nicholas has a passion for how technology can be used to accelerate the energy transition and combat climate change.

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