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DOE Case Study Gives CMP High Marks on Smart Meter Program
AUGUSTA, Maine, March 21, 2014 — Smart meter investments by Central Maine Power Company (CMP), a subsidiary of Iberdrola USA, are yielding positive results for the utility and its customers, according to a case study by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The study was released as part of the DOE’s review of nearly 100 Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG) projects undertaken since 2009.
“CMP’s SGIG project has produced innovations in customer services, improvements in business operations, and lessons‐learned that will be used for guiding future smart grid projects,” states the case study. “This investment has produced new IT and communications networks that provide infrastructure for existing and future smart grid projects, including … plans for automating distribution system operations and enabling applications of time‐based rates.”
CMP’s $196 million dollar investment in smart meters and related infrastructure was funded in part with a $96 million grant from the DOE under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
“It is gratifying to see the DOE recognize the many benefits of our smart meter program,” said Laney Brown, director of Smart Grid Planning and Programs for Iberdrola USA. “And this is only the beginning. As we continue to build upon the systems already in place, there will be even more benefits, including improved system reliability and more tools to help customers who wish to improve the energy efficiency of their homes and businesses.”
Among the benefits of CMP’s Smart Meter program cited in the DOE report:
New ability to read meters automatically and perform remote service connections and disconnections, producing an estimated $6.7 million in savings;
A 1.4 million mile reduction in meter-related travel, reducing fuel and vehicle-maintenance costs and cutting greenhouse gas emissions;
A 90 percent reduction in the number of estimated bills;
A 50 percent reduction in the number of calls from customers with high bill concerns.
A web portal that enables customers to monitor their energy consumption and costs;
A pilot program that gave weekly alerts to 3,000 participants and enabled them to reduce their energy usage by about 2 percent;
A new “Power House” energy education program for seventh and eighth graders that “brought science to the dinner table.” The online, curriculum-based, web portal enables students to monitor their family’s electricity consumption, learn about various energy efficiency measures, and compare their consumption with other households. The comparison feature has motivated families to reduce their energy use.
The case study also praised CMP’s customer engagement and outreach for the project, noting that the utility contacted more than 320 municipalities prior to installing smart meters. CMP held 140 briefings with elected officials and the public to answer questions about data privacy, home security, and perceived health effects from the meters. It was one of the first utilities in the nation to implement an opt-out provision in its program; the opt-out rate is currently 1.4 percent and continues to decline.
The DOE also noted that CMP’s smart meter program sets the stage for future enhancements to service quality, including distribution automation, which will improve reliability and resiliency of the grid. The improvements include integration of systems for energy control, transmission, distribution, outage management, and geographic information.
“CMP expects these new capabilities to provide better overall system monitoring and more efficient troubleshooting and dispatch,” said the report.
“The rollout of smart meters and related technology represents the biggest and most complex information technology project we have ever undertaken,” says CMP President Sara Burns. “It was completed on time and on budget, is already providing customer benefits, and sets the stage for even more benefits in the future. We are proud to see these efforts get this recognition from the Department of Energy.”
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About Central Maine Power Company (CMP): Central Maine Power Company, a subsidiary of Iberdrola USA, is Maine’s largest electricity transmission and distribution utility. The company delivers about 9 billion kilowatt hours of electricity annually to more than 600,000 homes and businesses, representing about 80% of Maine’s annual consumer sales of electricity. The company has been ranked #1 in customer satisfaction six times by J.D. Power and Associates. For more information, visit www.cmpco.com/.
About Iberdrola USA: Iberdrola USA is the U.S. subsidiary of global energy leader Iberdrola, S.A. The Iberdrola USA companies employ about 5,000 people with operations in 24 states from New England to the West Coast, providing electricity generation, transmission and distribution, natural gas storage and distribution, and energy services. For more information, please visit our website: www.iberdrolausa.com. Follow us on Twitter: @IberdrolaUSA