BGE has completed its five-year smart grid initiative to upgrade more than 1.7 million electric and gas meters and activate new customer savings programs. During the next 10 years, smart grid’s operational and customer benefits are expected to lead to more than $1.5 billion in savings. The company has filed with the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) to recover the costs of the upgrade initiative through an adjustment to electric and gas distribution rates.
BGE deferred recovery of its smart grid investment until the company was able to demonstrate that the system’s benefits were greater than its cost, as required by the PSC when it granted BGE’s request to proceed with the project in 2010. Now that the upgrade is completed, BGE’s filing demonstrates that for every dollar invested in smart grid, customers are realizing approximately $2.50 in benefits. The filing also discusses benefits in addition to those quantified, including future capabilities that will improve operations and energy efficiency.
“With upgraded meters in place throughout our service area, we have seen the benefits are substantial and sustainable,” said Calvin Butler, Jr., CEO of BGE. “As promised, when the project was approved, we would not seek to begin recouping costs through customer rates until we could show that customer benefits exceeded the costs. The energy and cost-savings tools available through smart meters have allowed customers to save significantly on their bills. Our company has also realized operational savings that we have been able to pass on to customers.”
Smart meter benefits include the following:
- Bill credits: Customers with smart meters have been able to earn more than $28 million in total bill credits by participating in the BGE Smart Energy Rewards Program since 2013. This past summer, more than 1 million residential customers were eligible for this program and almost 80% received bill credits.
- Personalized savings tips: More than 766,000 customers have used the data from their smart meters, accessed through their online accounts or Home Energy Reports, to review their energy use and receive tips on changes that will lower their bills.
- Energy reduction: As of July 2015, BGE customers taking advantage of energy management tools and tips have led to a 174,000 mega-watt hours reduction in energy use.
- Remote capabilities that enable BGE to dispatch resources more efficiently. More than 130,000 truck dispatches have been avoided as of July 2015.
- BGE is able to remotely start and stop service when customers move.
- BGE can contact or “ping” meters to determine if they are in service during a storm event.
In addition to smart meter-enabled programs, customers can continue to participate in BGE’s “Smart Energy Savers” energy efficiency programs to conserve energy use and save money.
BGE began installing smart meters in spring 2012; there are currently more than 1.7 million smart metering devices across BGE’s system. Final project costs of approximately $500 million were consistent with BGE’s initial proposal to the PSC. These costs were reduced for BGE customers in part by a $200 million federal stimulus grant, one of only six such grants of that amount awarded to utilities across the country.