PSO launches pilot program to test smart grid in Oklahoma

Source: Public Service Company of Oklahoma 

Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO), a subsidiary of American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP), has announced a pilot project to convert its electric distribution system in Owasso to new gridSMARTsm technology. The gridSMART system is designed to improve reliability and safety, and provide customers unprecedented information and control over their energy usage and electric bills.

All of PSO’s nearly 13,200 customers in and around Owasso will be included.

"PSO’s gridSMART program represents the next generation of technology we will use to serve our customers," said Stuart Solomon, PSO president and chief operating officer. "The smart grid technology is a game-changer that will provide customers with more information and control over their energy use and electric bills than they’ve ever had, and it will significantly improve the reliability of our Distribution System, which means fewer and shorter power outages. We are very excited about our project in Owasso."

The pilot project involves installation of new, digital Smart Meters at customers’ homes and businesses, along with a two-way, secure wireless communications network on PSO’s facilities. PSO also will install automated power restoration equipment on its distribution lines.

This new system is designed to provide a number of benefits, including:

• Improved reliability – Fewer power outages, and shorter duration of outages that do occur. Plus, the Smart Meters will pinpoint outage locations so repairs can begin faster.

• Ability to view energy usage in near real-time – On a voluntary basis customers may choose to have a digital display device installed in their homes and businesses which will show their current energy use and its cost, along with their usage history. Such information can help consumers take steps to cut energy use and possibly reduce their electric bills. Today, customers can only determine their energy usage after the fact through their monthly bill.

• Better customer service – PSO can respond faster to service requests, such as service connection and disconnection, because these operations will be performed remotely.

• Greater privacy – Smart Meters are read remotely, so meter readers will no longer need to enter customer property every month.
As an added benefit, all PSO customers included in the Owasso gridSMART pilot project will have access through PSO’s website to a link where they can view their energy usage in greater detail, including 15-minute intervals.

Work to install the Smart Meter communications network on PSO’s facilities is expected to begin this fall, with installation of Smart Meters at homes and businesses to start late 2010/early 2011. Conversion work is expected to continue into late 2011.

Total cost of PSO’s gridSMART project in Owasso is approximately $17.9 million.

To fund the project, PSO obtained an American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) low-interest loan worth $8.75 million from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. The ARRA loan was made through the US Department of Energy’s State Energy Program. PSO also has been collecting $2 million per year from customers in rates since PSO’s last base rate case order in February 2009 to help fund the program.

PSO, is an electric utility company serving approximately 531,000 customers in eastern and southwestern Oklahoma. Based in Tulsa, PSO has 4,408 megawatts of generating capacity, and is the largest provider of wind energy in the state. 

For the most up to date and in-depth information on the Smart Grid Energy market visit PennEnergy's comprehensive Research area to access industry focused Reports.

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