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The Grid: Technology in Oklahoma puts power at consumers' fingertips

New technologies promise to give consumers greater control of their electricity expenses.
by Adam Wilmoth Published: September 1, 2013

Improving technology already has given electricity consumers greater control of their energy usage.

New technology over the next few years promises to produce even greater improvements.

“As we modernize our system, we will be able to interact with our customers better and with our technology,” said Jessie Langston, vice president of retail energy at OG&E. “Our SmartHours technology allows us to do things today that we could not do five years ago.”

SmartHours provides consumers with far more data than was previously available. The system allows consumers to see how much electricity they use throughout the day. The data can also show consumers how much money and electricity they can save with small changes such as adjusting the thermostat or not using an older, inefficient refrigerator or window-mounted room air conditioner.

Technology upgrades have also allowed the utility to identify and repair power outages more quickly.

Other improvements are designed to help customers who have waited too long to pay their bills. OG&E three years ago began testing kiosk payment machines throughout the state. More than 150 are in place today.

“Today, with the 150 kiosk machines and the smart grid, if customers find themselves without power, they can go to a kiosk machine and pay their bills,” Langston said. “The system will automatically see the payment and restore power. The customers will probably have the lights on when they get home.”

Along with the smart grid system, smart thermostats have the potential to help consumers use less energy throughout the day.

Programmable thermostats have been available for many years, but few consumers take the time to program or fully use the intelligent boxes. Newer technology has allowed “smart” thermostats to program themselves based on usage.

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by Adam Wilmoth
Energy Editor
Adam Wilmoth returned to The Oklahoman as energy editor in 2012 after working for four years in public relations. He previously spent seven years as a business reporter at The Oklahoman, including five years covering the state's energy sector....
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