OG&E has entered into agreements with GE Energy and Silver Spring Networks to handle key aspects of its Positive Energy Smart Grid Program to begin with full deployment in Norman, Oklahoma, next year.

The program is the next step in OG&E's initiative to use smart grid technology to provide customers with more information to help manage their energy use and save money, without compromising their lifestyles. It also will help OG&E maintain reasonable electricity rates and continue highly reliable delivery of electricity to its customers.

GE will provide the 42,000 smart meters in Norman, Oklahoma. The digital devices will measure electricity use in the home or business and transmit the information to OG&E for billing and service monitoring. The information will be communicated via Silver Spring Networks' Smart Energy Network, a secure, IP-based network.

In the summer of 2008, OG&E began working with GE and Silver Spring Networks for its pilot study of smart grid technology with 6,600 customers in Oklahoma City.

As part of the Norman deployment, 2000 to 3000 customers will be recruited to receive information in almost real time regarding the price of electricity by time of day and the amount being used. The study will measure how many of those customers use price information to alter their energy consumption patterns and to lower their electric bills.

With the complete information network and smart meters in place, OG&E will be able to remotely connect or disconnect service to homes or businesses and receive notifications as soon as power outages occur, reducing response time to restore service.

According to Grant, in the next few weeks OG&E will select the company to install the smart meters and the companies to coordinate with OG&E on customer support and installation of devices in homes or businesses participating in the Norman study.

"We want to make sure that this technology works well before we integrate it completely into our normal operations and employee processes," said Grant. "However, we're confident smart grid technology is the future for our industry. We're looking ahead with many of our employees involved in designing the processes for use in Norman and later across our service territory for all of our customers."

OG&E received notice on Oct. 27 that its application for $130 million in smart grid stimulus funds has been approved, pending negotiations with the Department of Energy in November. The company will seek state regulatory approval for recovery of the remaining costs of the almost $300 million deployment across its entire service territory over the next three-five years.