Utility's SmartHours program gives flexibility to customers, official says

The next phase of smart meter technology will save customers money and delay the need for a new power plant, Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. chief says at energy conference.
by Paul Monies Published: April 18, 2012
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Smart meters need smart customers for real savings on electricity.

That's why Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. has embarked on a consumer education campaign that will benefit both the utility and customer's bills.

Pete Delaney, president and CEO of OG&E's parent company OGE Energy Corp., said the utility's new SmartHours program allows customers to save money by using electricity at off-peak times.

“We have the opportunity to broaden the legacy of Oklahoma as it relates to innovation in energy,” Delaney said at Oklahoma State University's annual energy conference Tuesday in Oklahoma City. “Smart customers are part of realizing that vision.”

Delaney said if enough people sign up for the voluntary SmartHours program, the utility can delay building a new power plant until at least 2020. The program is the next step after OG&E began installing smart meters across its customer base. The smart meter project is expected to reach all the utility's 780,000 customers by the end of the year.

“We believe the technology now exists to partner with our customers to shift demand using variable price signals,” Delaney said.

“Technology allows us to communicate with the products in our system and our customers.”

Delaney said utilities across the country and around the world are closely watching OG&E's efforts, called demand-side management in industry lingo.

“Nowhere else is this technology being driven this aggressively on a voluntary basis,” Delaney said. “I often get the question: ‘Why is this happening in Oklahoma? Don't you want to burn and use as much as you can?' I think it's a good idea to change that notion. We've got to produce it wisely and use it wisely.”

In response to an audience question, Delaney said it was likely the next generating plant OG&E builds would be powered by natural gas, not coal.

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by Paul Monies
Energy Reporter
Paul Monies is an energy reporter for The Oklahoman. He has worked at newspapers in Texas and Missouri and most recently was a data journalist for USA Today in the Washington D.C. area. Monies also spent nine years as a business reporter and...
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SmartHours program

About 10,000 customers were involved in OG&E's pilot program for SmartHours. Any customer with a smart meter can monitor home electricity usage online at myogepower.com. But the SmartHours program also provides programmable thermostats and advance notice via text or email of the peak demand times the next day. That allows customers to better plan their usage so they aren't using electricity at the expensive, peak time of the day

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