CHICAGO, June 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Village of Oak Park sustainability manager K.C. Poulos recently received an in-home energy display unit from ComEd as part of its Smart Meter program, and says it wasn't until her kids unplugged their computer that they realized how much energy it was consuming, even when they weren't using it.
ComEd hopes more customers like Poulos take advantage of the new smart meter-enabled tools. "We had fun turning appliances on and off to see the impacts; it was educational for my family," said Poulos.
This week ComEd opened the doors to more transparent and efficient electricity usage for a select group of customers, but the question waiting to be answered is: will customers engage?
"We believe that this is an opportunity to put control in customers' hands," said Anne Pramaggiore, president and chief operating officer, ComEd. "We are testing a variety of incentives, information and tools to determine what customers need to become more effective home energy managers."
Just in time to combat higher electricity bills due to warmer weather and kids being home from school, and as part of the one-year pilot approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC), up to 131,000 customers will receive new tools to access more information about how they use electricity.
Customers may not realize the impact that having more people at home during the summer can have. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the addition of one person to a one-person household can increase the annual kilowatt hours used in a home by 56 percent.
However, ComEd smart meter customers now have more information at their fingertips that can translate into real cost savings:
- ComEd.com/SmartTools, a new Web page available to all smart meter customers that provides daily usage information from the new meters to help monitor their electricity use and manage costs. No more waiting for the bill to arrive in the mail.
- Personalized mailed reports for most customers, sharing data on their energy usage trends, comparisons to similar types of homes, and tailored energy efficiency ideas.
- For some customers, in-home energy usage displays that behave much like mobile phones or personal tablet devices and give users the chance to "check, change and save" from their kitchens or home offices.
Smart meters have been installed in nine I-290 Corridor communities – Bellwood, Berwyn, Broadview, Forest Park, Hillside, Maywood, Melrose Park, Oak Park, River Forest – and the Humboldt Park area in Chicago.
During the one-year program, ComEd will measure:
- Operational benefits, including improved service and safety.
- Customer benefits, including customer responses to technologies and information.
- Societal benefits, such as greenhouse gas emission reduction.
At the end of the program, ComEd will evaluate what it learned and make a recommendation to the ICC for its review and determination on how new technology could transform the way energy is delivered and open more choices to all ComEd customers.
"We encourage all smart meter customers to road-test these new services and include their families in discussions about energy use," said Pramaggiore. "Summer is the perfect time for students to take what they are learning in school about energy efficiency and the environment, and potentially help their families save some extra money this year."
The Smart Meter program is an important first step toward a "Smart Grid," a potential modernization of the electricity distribution system. Other technologies being incorporated into the Smart Meter communities this year are:
- Automation of the distribution system to enhance reliability by reducing customer interruptions.
- Conservation Voltage Regulation technologies to reduce line losses – the energy that is wasted as power is moved from power generation plants to homes.
- Intelligent substation technologies to improve safety and optimize maintenance practices while enhancing reliability and operational performance.
ComEd also received federal funding for an innovative test integrating solar power with smart metering, dynamic pricing and energy storage in 100 residences with smart meters.
ComEd's Smart Meter program and smart technologies will provide useful information to the ICC and other stakeholders as policies for statewide Smart Grid deployment are developed. This will play an important role in building a more energy efficient and independent future for Illinois by delivering higher levels of reliability and providing customers unprecedented choices and control.
Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), one of the nation's largest electric utilities with approximately 5.4 million customers. ComEd provides service to approximately 3.8 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state's population.