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Smart Meters for Smart Power

As part of CVPS’ SmartPower®, the Company’s “smart grid” solution, a two-way digital communications network will be deployed across CVPS’s service territory to collect real-time and near-real time information about electricity consumption and grid conditions. The resulting information and tools can be used by CVPS and its customers to better manage electricity usage and the electricity grid.

Expanded information will provide customers with greater insights and control of electricity consumption, enabling new rates that encourage off-peak consumption and help customers manage their electricity costs. Utility operations will have more in-depth data about grid conditions and be able to use this information to improve reliability, reduce operational costs, and to support emerging technologies such as electric vehicles and small-scale renewable generation such as solar and wind.

Advanced meters, substation and distribution system automation technologies and sophisticated IT software systems will work in consort to provide new tools and information that will allow utility operations and customers to make more intelligent, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly choices.  “These capabilities are expected to create significant savings, improve grid reliability, and allow CVPS to continue to meet the changing demands of the grid in the years to come”, said Todd Kowalczyk, the program manager responsible for CVPS’s smart grid initiatives.

Advanced Meters
Meter Installations will begin in 1Q 2012 with completion in early 2013. the approximately 180,000 existing meters will be replaced with new digital meters. The new meters will record and report usage data and power outages information at 15-minute or hourly intervals.  The customer will have private access to a web page with details about billing information and their hourly energy usage, to see how much energy they use and when they use it.

As the meter deployment progresses, additional features will be added to the web portal, allowing customers to evaluate rate options based on their consumption patterns to determine the best rate option for their lifestyle. Customers will be able to understand how their consumption patterns change over time and how their consumption compares to similar homes.

Customer Benefits:

  • Reliability.
  • Help customers to manage costs.
  • Cost-effective management of the electricity grid.
  • Utility savings result from being able to remotely read meters.

For example, advanced meters will be capable of alerting CVPS when an outage occurs. Utility operations will have a better understanding of the extent of storm impacts and be able to marshal the appropriate response much more quickly and efficiently, helping reduce the duration of power outages. Detailed data can be used to size distribution equipment, to improve reliability by reducing equipment failure incidents during peak load conditions and help reduce utility costs as equipment is sized based on load conditions.

A more intelligent and connected grid will also help with the management of more small-scale renewable distributed generation installations on the grid. The technologies being deployed as part of the CVPS SmartPower® project will create the foundation for supporting the expansion of solar, wind, and other forms of small-scale, intermittent energy sources and enable future opportunities such as micro-grids, energy storage, electric vehicles and other future technologies.

Security & Privacy
Creating a smarter grid also means creating a secure grid that is more aware and resilient to cyber-security attacks.  The systems that CVPS is deploying are being developed in compliance with all federal and state security standards. In addition, CVPS is working with the other Vermont utilities, the Department of Energy, and Sandia National Labs, an organization with extensive cyber-security expertise, to implement robust security measures for the technologies being deployed.

Kowalczyk said CVPS has been protecting customer data for decades and will continue to do so. There are very strict protocols, he said. “No information goes out to any outside party, without a court order or subpoena,” he said. The utility will not market any information it gets from the meters.

Customer Choice
CVPS’s smart grid program is founded on a guiding principle that provides customers with better ways and greater choices for managing their electricity consumption. Customers can choose to take advantage of a wide array of the new tools and information available, may choose to participate in a more limited way, or if customers are adverse to wireless metering in their homes, with CVPS’s approved opt out tariff can choose to opt out of the wireless technology, but will be unable to take advantage of certain AMI-based benefits like TOU rates, in home displays to better understand power usage patterns, and automatic outage detection.

Customer Outreach
In conjunction with its smart grid program, CVPS is currently conducting extensive customer outreach to help make customers aware of the capabilities that a smarter grid will enable and answer questions about CVPS SmartPower®. Kowalczyk, the CVPS program manager, said that “ The campaign is as much about listening to our customers as it is communicating details about the new technologies.” Additional information about CVPS SmartPower® can be found on CVPS’s web site at: www.cvps.com/ProgramsServices/smartpower/index.asp

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