At the center of the plan is installing new, state-of-the-art meters (commonly referred to as Â“smartÂ” meters) on the homes and businesses of its more than 300,000 Delaware electric and gas customers. The Â“smartÂ” meters will provide for two-way communication between the utility and its customers. That means both Delmarva Power and its customers will be able to closely track energy use throughout the day.
Â“WeÂ’re going to provide our customers with the tools for reducing their energy use, particularly when it costs the most. These Â‘smartÂ’ meters are just the beginning but with them, and other related initiatives, we can work with our customers to use less energy, therefore reducing customerÂ’s bills,Â” said Gary Stockbridge, Delmarva Power Region President.
In addition to providing customers with more information to help them better manage their electric use, the Â“smartÂ” meters are a key component of the Â“smartÂ” grid, which will ultimately improve customer service. For example, the utility will eventually be able to detect outages at a customer's home remotely without the customer having to call to report the outage, and the need for estimated bills will greatly be reduced.
While Delmarva PowerÂ’s Delaware customers could see the new meters arrive as early as next fall, Stockbridge said it will take some time to fully integrate them to a point where customers realize all the benefits.
Â“With the CommissionÂ’s approval, the detailed planning for installing the new meters can get under way. We applaud the Delaware Public Service Commission for continuing to keep Delaware in the forefront on key energy issues such as these,Â” said Stockbridge.
Â“Our business case clearly shows that the overall customer benefits will far outweigh the nominal per customer cost,Â” said Stockbridge, adding that the Commission will review and determine the per customer cost in a future rate proceeding, which will take into account the net effect of both costs and savings associated with the new technology.
Some of the reasons why the benefits from the new meters would outweigh their costs include: the reduction in wholesale energy prices from customers using less energy during peak, expensive times; the reduction in customersÂ’ monthly bill because they will have the tools to alter their energy use more than ever before; more efficient utility operations; as well as the less quantifiable benefits that using less energy has on the environment.
Â“Given the energy and environmental challenges we face today, it is imperative for utilities to invest in new technologies that take energy efficiency to new heights. With Â‘smartÂ’ meters, Delmarva Power is doing just that,Â” Stockbridge said. Â“We realize that the cheapest, cleanest kilowatt is the one that never gets used. Installation of these Â‘smartÂ’ meters is the first critical step in upgrading our electric delivery system to enable customers to take advantage of an array of new energy efficiency initiatives that will be offered by both Delmarva Power and DelawareÂ’s Sustainable Energy Utility.Â”