Phoenix, AZ — (METERING.COM) — November 30, 2006 – U.S. utility Salt River Project’s M-Power program is closing in on a new milestone with the connection of the 50,000th customer to its prepayment alternative. Already the largest pre-pay metering system in North America, the program began 15 years ago as a service primarily targeted at low-income or credit-challenged customers, but since then has quickly expanded across SRP’s residential electric customer base. SRP is the largest provider of power to the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, serving more than 890,000 electricity customers.
M-Power customers use an in-home user display terminal (UDT) to keep track of how much energy they are using in kilowatt hours and in dollars. Energy is purchased in advance on a ‘smart’ card, similar to telephone calling cards. The cards are credited with electricity purchased at SRP PayCenters located around the Phoenix metropolitan area. The card is then run through the in-home UDT, which sends the information to the electric meter.
Because M-Power is a pre-pay program, there are no late fees, disconnect fees or additional security deposits.
“SRP customers are attracted to the M-Power program because they have the option to pay at their own pace and they have the ability to monitor and control their electric use,” said Jennie King, a principal planning analyst with SRP.
Studies indicate that SRP M-Power customers are, on average, reducing their annual electricity usage by 12.8 per cent. Also, the study shows 95 per cent of customers report they have more control over the electricity they consume.
“The information our M-Power customers are receiving is often very enlightening,” said King. “They’re able to use the data on their display units to monitor their energy use and modify it accordingly to save electricity and money.”
Approximately 10,000 customers are added to the program each year, and SRP hopes to have 80,000 participating in M-Power by 2010.
In addition to reaching new M-Power customer levels, SRP recently achieved a major technologic milestone by setting its 100,000th smart meter. These electric meters can send data via radio signals to a two-way radio collector unit, which transmits information to a computer at an SRP facility. This ability to communicate enables smart meters to gather readings for monthly billing or check readings when new customers move into properties.
The devices allow SRP to complete service orders (such as turn-ons and turn-offs) more rapidly. Within 12 months SRP will be able to read meters daily, making daily usage information available to customers on SRP’s website. Today only 10 percent of SRP electric meters are smart, but more of these units are expected to be added in the future.