In Naperville, Illinois, where according to the U.S. Department of Energy over 9 percent of the residents pay more in order to get their electricity from renewable sources, smart meters are being installed. The smart meters are part of Naperville’s smart grid initiative, which according to the city has the potential to save electric customers $30 million over the next fifteen years.
Naperville received an $11 million Smart Grid Investment Grant from the U.S. Department of Energy through the American Recovery and Reinvestment act to speed up the initiative. As reported by the City of Naperville, in December 2009 the City Council endorsed the smart grid initiative and committed funding to match the grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.
About 57,000 smart meters will be installed. The smart meters will allow for a two-way flow of information between Naperville’s utility company and its customers. This provides customers, both residential and commercial, with information they can use to analyze and adjust their energy use, conserving energy and reducing operating and maintenance costs. As explained by Gerry Smith in the Chicago Tribune, on hot summer afternoons when electricity prices are higher due to peak demand, customers could set their smart meters to run their appliances at night when the demand and price decreases.
By smoothing out demand, smart meters are intended to improve efficiency and make the grid more reliable. By having a better understanding of demand, the utility company will be able to lower prices. And, the smart grid will provide the initial infrastructure to support the use of electric cars in the community and take in electricity from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.
According to an article on the Smart Grid Seeker, the projected benefits of the smart meter implementation in Naperville include a 5% reduction in total energy use from 2012 to 2023, a 6.5% reduction in peak demand by 2023, and carbon emission reductions of 180,000 tons, plus increased business opportunities and new jobs to implement the project.
Despite the projected positive impact of smart meters, there are some areas of concern. One is whether the utility company will pass the costs of new technology on to customers. Another is the privacy of the data the smart meters provide.
Naperville has made consumer outreach efforts, including a Smart Grid Customer Bill of Rights that states that customers will have the right to be informed about rates, outages, and financial and operational data on the smart grid project. They will have options regarding the rate structure, the purchase of devices that allow them to control their electricity consumption and how they want to receive information. Customers are guaranteed secure, confidential and accurate information through a cyber security plan. And they can restrict the utility company’s ability to release their personal information and data on their energy usage.
Gerry Smith, “Naperville prepares to roll out ‘smart’ electricity meters” – Chicago Tribune
Naperville City Council Endorses Smart Grid Initiative – Naperville, Illinois
nialljmcshane, “Getting the Consumer On-Board: Naperville IL Does Smart Grid Right” – Smart Grid Seeker
Smart Grid Initiative – Naperville, Illinois
VP100: A smart grid initiative in an eco-conscious town – Energy Empowers