OG&E has filed an application with the Arkansas Public Service Commission seeking approval to recover costs for the installation of smart meters and related smart grid technology for greater electricity efficiency across the company's Arkansas service area.
Smart meters, when supported by in-home tools and time of day pricing plans, will give customers opportunities to make energy-use decisions that shift demand away from hours when electricity costs are at their highest, to lower-cost times of day, saving money on their monthly bills and helping OG&E delay the need for the costly addition of more generating capacity.
"This technology and the efficiencies it brings are integral components in our goal to reach the year 2020 without adding fossil-fueled electric generation," said Howard Motley, vice president of regulatory affairs.
OG&E has already begun installing smart grid technology, including smart meters, in Oklahoma and is conducting a study of in-home tools and innovative rate plans to help determine how customers can best benefit from more timely information about their electricity use and costs. If the Commission approves the plan filed today, OG&E plans to begin installation of approximately 70,000 smart meters and associated smart technology in its western Arkansas service area in the second half of 2011.
Smart technology uses the networking capabilities of the new meters and a secure wireless network to allow the company to read meters remotely, as well as start and stop service. Other smart grid devices will add greater automation to the company's electricity distribution system, helping to reduce the frequency and duration of outages. The full roll out of smart technology, which includes new meters, in-home technology, a wide area network (WAN) and distribution system automation, is expected to be completed around 2017.
"Smart technology benefits OG&E and our customers in a number of important areas," Motley said. "It supports reliability and shortens the duration of outages, and will provide customers with new tools to better manage their energy use. It also will help improve operating efficiency, which can translate into lower customer costs."
If approved, installation of the technology would increase the average residential customer's electric bill by $1.64 per month. The filing also identifies the portion of a $130 million federal stimulus grant that OG&E will utilize to help offset costs to Arkansas customers. OG&E, a subsidiary of OGE Energy Corp., serves more than 782,000 customers in a service territory spanning 30,000 square miles in Oklahoma and western Arkansas.