T&D World Magazine

Interim Results from OG&E Show Smart Technology Can Help Reduce Peak Energy Use

Oklahoma Gas and Electric has announced promising results from about 2,500 of its residential customers participating in the first year of its two-year smart grid study.

A snapshot of the findings includes:

  • Customers with a smart thermostat achieved a maximum demand reduction of 57 percent during the peak period when compared to a control group.
  • The amount of electricity used by participants on the company’s variable peak price plan was highly influenced by price. Average energy use during the peak period ranged from a 1 percent increase during low price periods to a 33 percent decrease during high price periods.
  • The average energy reduction during peak periods, on the highest price days, ranged from 11 percent to 33 percent, depending on smart technology.

“While today’s results are promising, we’re constantly reminding ourselves that they reflect only one summer of our study, and that there’s still a great deal of work to be done,” said Ken Grant, managing director of OG&E’s smart grid program. “We hope to verify and expand on these results in year two of the study, which will conclude at the end of September.”

More than 2,500 residential and small business customers in Norman, Oklahoma, participated in the 2010 study, which was conducted from June through September. Residential customers who volunteered to participate were randomly assigned a combination of a peak price plan and smart technology. Business customers were involved as a large focus group and could select their price plan and technology.

Grant added that in addition to the peak reduction data, the company continues to learn from the study and its participants about which technology provides the best information to help them manage their energy more wisely.

“In addition to saving on their bills, participants tell us that they generally like being more aware of their energy use and costs,” Grant said. “Some pre-programmed their thermostats to respond to higher peak prices. Some simply put a note on the refrigerator as a reminder, and others wanted to graph their energy use along with summer temperatures to identify ways to better manage their electricity. Our challenge is to provide products and services to help each of these customers make informed energy choices.”

In 2011, OG&E will add an additional 2,500-3,000 small business and residential customers to its study, seeking participants to enroll between February 14 and April 18. Results for both years will be used to develop new customer programs for 2012.

“Our customers are vital to ensuring the long-term success of our demand reduction programs,” Grant said. “It’s a partnership that we share. These early study results clearly demonstrate that smart technology coupled with dynamic pricing enables customers to reduce their maximum peak energy use, which will help delay the need for building new fossil-fueled generation until at least 2020.”

In 2008, OGE Energy Chairman and CEO Pete Delaney established a goal for OG&E to delay the addition of any new fossil-fueled generation until at least 2020.

OG&E is in the middle of a three-year comprehensive deployment of smart grid technology across its service territory which includes the installation of smart meters, a secure wireless network and smart equipment on its distribution system to increase reliability and reduce operational expenses. It received approval in July from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission for recovery of approximately $360 million in project costs of which more than $100 million is in matching funds from a US Department of Energy stimulus grant. A case seeking recovery for smart grid deployment in areas served by OG&E in Arkansas is pending in that state’s public service commission.

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