Via greentechmedia this week comes news of an smart meter/smart thermostat initiative by Oklahoma Gas & Electric that has exceeded all expectations in terms of energy and money savings. The demand-response initiative, which signed up 40,000 customers in its first year, taps customers into the smart grid by way of a smart meter and a programmable thermostat, and charges more for peak energy usage, but gives discounts during off-peak hours.
The goal of the program was to achieve 1 to 1.3 kilowatts peak power reduction per home, in an attempt to avoid building new coal or gas power plants. After a year, the initiative has blown past that goal, delivering a collective 70 megawatts of peak power reduction — roughly 2 kilowatts per home.
Beyond sheer load reduction, OG&E was also able to get reliable and steady reduction out of those collected homes, [Energate CEO Niraj Bhargava] noted. Energate’s SmartHours program allows customers to choose various comfort and cost settings via web portal or on their thermostat, as well as adjust settings based on data collected over time. As for the underlying smart meter network, it’s built out via a $130 million Department of Energy stimulus grant.
OG&E wants to sign up another 40,000 residential customers and get another 70-megawatt peak load reduction out of them this summer. The utility has a 2014 goal of 120,000 homes and is working with other partners, such as Silicon Valley big data smart grid startup AutoGrid, to fine-tune the program’s customer outreach and program design.
Given the outright batty paranoia surrounding smart meters, it’s heartening to see a program like this taking off and surpassing goals.