Oncor's advanced meters are now beginning to automatically report power outages, allowing Oncor to restore service in many cases before a customer ever calls in. In addition, information about potential or emerging problems is also being reported, enabling Oncor to take action before customers are even affected. This is a major milestone in improving customer service and reducing outage time, a direct result of the technology investments Oncor has been making for the past five years.
"This is a game-changer for our customers," Oncor Chief Operating Officer Jim Greer said. "I don't think our customers realized how limited information on the grid really was before we started investing in smart grid technologies. In the past, we typically didn't know about an outage until a customer reported it. Now, we are able to use the information from our advanced meters to diagnose and fix many issues on our system before they cause problems."
Between March and April, more than 1,400 notifications were reported directly by Oncor's advanced metering system (AMS), signaling that something was unusual at the meter's location. Of the issues that were outages, more than half resulted in the outage being restored before a customer reported it. Additionally, numerous notifications identified Oncor facilities that were beginning to fail, allowing Oncor the opportunity to initiate repairs before an outage occurs.
"We are very excited about what this means for our customers, and we realize we will only continue to improve," Greer continued. "Using this new information, we can continue to make adjustments and address issues on our grid as needed to ensure that our customers are receiving the quality of service they demand and deserve – and our advanced meters are helping us deliver on that promise."
Oncor began its advanced meter program in 2008. Currently, more than 2.6 million advanced meters have been installed, with a total of more than 3.4 million to be completed by the end of the year. In addition to reporting outage information, advanced meters empower customers to monitor and manage their electric usage through the state's Smart Meter Texas Portal, which provides individual usage data in 15-minute increments, instead of on a monthly basis. Customers in Oncor's service territory showed last year during the company's Biggest Energy Saver contest that by using the information from Oncor's advanced meter they could reduce their electric usage and bills by 25 percent or more. Oncor's long-term goal for the advanced meters has been to improve service, reduce outages and help customers better manage their usage so they could save money on their electric bills. As Oncor continues to refine and improve these new capabilities, customers are still