OG&E filed an application on December 17,2010 with the Arkansas Public Service Commission seeking approval to recover costs for the installation of smart meters and related smart grid technology. OG&E is hoping that when armed knowledge and information about the real time price of energy, customers will make energy-use decisions that shift demand away from hours when electricity costs are at their highest, to lower-cost times of day, saving money on their monthly bills and helping OG&E delay the need for the costly addition of more generating capacity. This would be a win/win as OG&E would reach its Goal 2020. “This technology and the efficiencies it brings are integral components in our goal to reach the year 2020 without adding fossil-fueled electric generation,” said Howard Motley, vice president of regulatory affairs.

If the Commission approves the plan filed today, OG&E expects to begin installation of approximately 70,000 smart meters and associated smart technology in its western Arkansas service area in the second half of 2011. Installation of the technology would increase the average residential customer’s electric bill by $1.64 per month. The filing also identifies the portion of a $130 million federal stimulus grant that OG&E will utilize to help offset costs to Arkansas customers. 

The smart technology OG&E is proposing uses the networking capabilities of the new meters and a secure wireless network to allow the company to read meters remotely, as well as start and stop service. Other smart grid devices will add greater automation to the company’s electricity distribution system, helping to reduce the frequency and duration of outages. The full roll out of smart technology, which includes new meters, in-home technology, a wide area network (WAN) and distribution system automation, is expected to be completed around 2017.

It does not take long to understand that everyone: utility, customers and society benefit from a smarter grid. Let’s examine one feature of  the smart meter – the ability to do remote disconnect/reconnect will save both OG&E and its customers millions of dollars. The company should see a decline in collection related write-offs in addition to the efficiencies from being able to turn service on or off at the flip of a switch.  This will yield less fleet, less gas, less emissions and a greener environment and greener wallets.