DTE Energy has announced plans to install an additional 350,000 electric meters to provide the backbone for its SmartCurrents program, which will allow electric customers to communicate with the company, provide detailed information about their energy usage and recognize power outages without customer input.
"Our SmartCurrents program gives us the tools to improve our service for both business and residential customers," said Vince Dow, DTE Energy vice president, Distribution Operations. "This technology will allow us to quickly locate and reduce the length of power outages and other problems, virtually eliminate estimated bills through automated meter reading and remotely connect and disconnect service, which means faster, less intrusive service."
The meter technology will serve as a platform that will provide remote monitoring of the electric distribution system and allow customers to better manage their energy usage and bills.
About 350,000 additional smart meters will be installed in 25 Oakland County communities starting in April. DTE Energy has installed about 250,000 meters so far in Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township, Commerce Township, Grosse Ile, Harsen's Island and West Bloomfield Township, and in total, about 600,000 meters will be installed by early 2012.
The project is being funded, in part, through an $84 million U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Smart Grid Investment Grant, which is a nationwide effort to improve the nation's electrical grid. The grant, matched by DTE Energy, will enable the company to accelerate its deployment of Smart Grid technology.
Other electrical equipment will be installed to allow DTE Energy to remotely monitor the electrical system. Customers will benefit because the company will know, to an individual meter, the extent of a power outage and how best to respond to that outage.
The SmartCurrents program will incorporate new technologies and products, besides advanced metering technology, such as "smart" appliances, thermostats and control units so customers can monitor their energy usage.
As a result of the DOE funding, DTE Energy will have the opportunity to offer technology with in-home displays and high tech thermostats to nearly 1,500 customers.