Smart meters will be used in energy savings program


Kenneth W. DeFontes Jr.,
Baltimore, MD, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — January 24, 2007 – U.S. utility Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. is taking steps to encourage customers to be more proactive in saving energy at a time when no new power plants are being built – and one of those steps will be the deployment of smart meters in every home.

The utility has over 1 million residential customers, a small proportion of whom are already enrolled in a demand response program which allows their air conditioners and hot water geysers to be switched off remotely during times of peak demand in the summer. Now BG&E hopes that the introduction of smart meters will allow it to introduce a more sophisticated program, with several options and greater financial benefits for consumers.

The plan, which has been filed with the Maryland Public Service Commission, involves BG&E rewarding customers who use power during off-peak hours, as well as paying those customers who allow the utility to control equipment such as air conditioners remotely.

In addition a trial of 5,000 smart meters is due to commence later in the year, with a smaller number of consumers also due to receive new programmable thermostats and remote-control switches for appliances.

While some analysts are still of the opinion that the average residential customer would rather pay a small surcharge than go to the trouble of changing his behavior, others are convinced that demand response programs using smart meters can work to cut energy use, as long as they have been communicated effectively. The need is particularly great in Maryland, which imports about 30 per cent of its power from neighboring states, and is thus vulnerable to swings in the price of wholesale energy.

It is possible that customers will be asked to contribute towards the cost of the new meters if the decision is taken to deploy them throughout BG&E’s service territory, but utility President Kenneth W. DeFontes Jr. is on record as saying: "At the end of the day, you’ll pay less than you would have paid had we not done this."