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Advanced Metering System: Low Electricity Use, Low Bills

May 25, 2011

Some of the latest developments ever to hit the Texas electricity industry are smart meters and advanced metering systems. These enhancements to the existing electricity grid combine advanced computer and telecommunications technologies to make utility distribution more efficient and more reliable. Advanced metering systems were developed to provide both consumers and electric companies better access to information about the electricity grid as well as provide a host of other features including usage analyses, load control, interactive maintenance and monitoring systems and other services not even possible using old electrical systems.

Advanced Metering Systems In Texas

As of March 2009, a mandatory initiative that requires all residents and businesses in Texas to switch over to advanced metering systems was initiated by the Public Utility Commission of Texas and will be implemented within the next 5 years. The system was intended to change the way Texas consumers measure and control their electric usage. In an energy deregulated market, Texas consumers have the power to choose their energy options, but advance metering systems can help them get a better understanding and better management of their Texas electricity consumptions. Although consumers will incur a monthly surcharge to cover for the cost of installation of the advanced metering systems but this cost can be recovered by the savings they can gain from its use. The Public Utility Commission of Texas has approved the AEP, CenterPoint and Oncor transmission and distribution service providers to deploy advanced metering systems in their own respective service territories. Installations and deployments will be completed within a five-year period from the providers’ initiation date.

The Benefits of Advanced Metering Systems

Advanced metering systems are good enhancements to the Texas electricity system, a vital step in finally achieving a true smart grid. The following are the benefits Texas consumers can gain from advanced metering systems:

  • Better Control of Energy Usage to Lower Electricity Bills – Research have shown that advanced metering systems can provide users with up to 10% savings in their energy usage through better ways of managing energy consumption
  • Automated Systems for Better Accuracy, Reliability and Better Outage Response Time – In an energy deregulated market, Retail Electric Providers can provide consumers with better and innovative services for better management of electricity. Utility functions such as meter readings, billings and demand responses are automated using advanced metering systems making them more accurate, highly reliable, safer and more responsive.
  • Facilitate Upgrade for Energy Efficiency and Demand Response Programs – With advanced metering systems, smart appliances that provide better energy efficiency and better demand responsiveness can now be used by consumers and service providers. Such appliances can adjust depending on peak demand and Texas electricity prices, thus help in reducing the need for additional power plants and reduce carbon emissions.
  • Provide More Energy Options to the Texas Consumer – The use of advanced metering systems will improve and facilitate the automatic linking of renewable energy resources such as solar and wind power to the Texas electricity grid, automatically reducing load when alternative energy outputs are lower.

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