Federal Government to Use District Pilot as Blueprint for Smart Grid Success

September 9, 2010

SAN MATEO, Calif., Sept. 9 /PRNewswire/ — In an effort to encourage further Smart Grid pilot deployments across the country, eMeter, a leader in Smart Grid management software, and representatives from the D.C. Public Service Commission (PSC) will present a final report on the PowerCentsDC Program in a press conference also attended by White House officials at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The report on the PowerCentsDC program, which tested demand response and dynamic pricing responses from Pepco customers in the District of Columbia, will be utilized by the White House as a best practices example for other states considering their own Smart Grid deployments. PowerCentsDC, which is managed by eMeter Strategic Consulting and overseen by Smart Meter Pilot Program, Inc. (SMPPI), allowed 90% of participating customers to save money over the course of the pilot.

“PowerCentsDC proves that the Smart Grid can deliver solid benefits to all consumers, regardless of income level,” said George Arnold, National Coordinator for Smart Grid Interoperability for the National Institute of Standards and Technology. “The results of this pilot are helping our national efforts on the Smart Grid to learn from best practices.”

Today’s presentation followed a July meeting with members of the Executive Office of the President, the Department of Energy, and the National Institute for Science and Technology (NIST), during which time SMPPI Board members and consultants presented the initial results of PowerCentsDC. Chris King, Chief Regulatory Officer of Smart Grid management software provider eMeter and Rick Morgan, commissioner on the D.C. Public Service Commission (PSC), delivered the initial results of the PowerCentsDC pilot program. Federal officials were particularly struck by the unprecedented response from participating customers when given multiple pricing options. Members of the EoP asked that King and Morgan provide recommendations from the pilot’s implementation process for engaging consumers and effectively reducing power consumption.

“We’ve already seen the federal government take steps to promote demand response at a national level but many were not aware that this innovative program was happening in their own backyard,” said King. “PowerCentsDC not only reinforces results from many other Smart Grid pilot programs across the country, but presents new and compelling data on just how much consumers can save on their bills when given genuine insight and choice on their energy usage practices.”

PowerCentsDC – the first pilot in the electric utility industry to test an integrated Smart Grid combination of dynamic pricing, multi-faceted consumer engagement practices, and smart appliance control – included about 1,000 Pepco customers in the District of Columbia for two summers and one winter, from mid-2008 to late 2009. Participating residential customers were tested on hourly pricing, critical peak pricing, and critical peak rebates. This program was the first smart metering program in the country to test these three dynamic pricing methods at the same time. Customers also received monthly energy reports; in-home display of real-time pricing and month-to-date cost and usage data; and online access to detailed energy consumption and conservation information via eMeter’s consumer engagement web portal.

“The results from PowerCentsDC will help to inform the District’s policymakers as we move forward with smart grid technology,” said Morgan. “With Pepco’s ongoing deployment of advanced metering, our nation’s capital is poised to be among the first jurisdictions in the country to put smart meters to work helping consumers.”

All customer segments responded to the dynamic pricing model. Consumers participating in the PowerCentsDC program reduced summer peak demand by up to 50%, with the greatest reductions occurring when dynamic prices were combined with automated air conditioner control via smart thermostats. All three pricing groups – Critical Peak Pricing, Critical Peak Rebate, and Hourly Pricing – had statistically valid peak demand reductions. The Critical Peak Rebate pricing group was the most popular among customers, yet customers in the Critical Peak Pricing group exhibited the strongest response. Hourly pricing saved customers the most money, but was the least effective in reducing customers’ power consumption.

The analysis by Dr. Frank Wolak, Professor of Economics at Stanford University, determined that customers with low income not only reduced their peak usage by an unprecedented 30 percent, but also enrolled in the program at proportionally higher rates than other customers. Many program participants received lower bills as a result of dynamic pricing and preferred their pricing to Pepco’s Standard Offer Service (SOS) conventional rate structure. The results are generally consistent with other smart metering pilot programs and are expected to inform District officials with regard to Smart Grid policy moving forward.

“Due in part to the success of the PowerCentsDC Program, the District of Columbia Public Service has recently approved Pepco’s plans for a full deployment of smart meters throughout the district within 18 months,” said King. “Our hope is that with the strong support of the federal government, utilities across rest of the country will use this pilot as a model for achieving similar successes.”

With the assistance of federal ARPA funds, the Pepco is scheduled to deploy advanced meters for all customers in the District by the end of 2011, consistent with a PSC ruling. A dynamic pricing plan proposed by Pepco is also currently under consideration by the PSC.

About eMeter

eMeter provides essential software that enables electric, gas and water utilities to realize the full benefits of Smart Grid. Leading utilities worldwide depend on eMeter Smart Grid Management software to reduce operational costs, improve customer service, and drive energy efficiency. With the most large-scale deployments in the industry and strategic partnerships with Accenture, IBM, Logica, and Siemens, eMeter has built a reputation for unparalleled expertise that ensures customer success.


Source: newswire

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