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OG&E SmartHours Program on Target for Sustainability and Growth

Aug. 2, 2013
Energate technology has enabled sustainable results for the Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. (OG&E) consumer demand response SmartHours program.

Energate technology has enabled sustainable results for the Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. (OG&E) consumer demand response SmartHours program. Now in its second year, the program — in partnership with Silver Spring Networks and other collaborators — continues to sustain and grow peak-power-reduction results.

OG&E residential consumers with an Energate programmable communicating thermostat have achieved an average peak reduction of 2.02 kW per home, and the program is targeting an additional 70 MW over 40,000 homes in 2013, with a goal of 120,000 homes by the summer of 2014. OG&E’s overall program goal includes avoiding construction of incremental fossil generation prior to 2020.

By employing a consumer-centric approach to demand response, OG&E customers can individually choose their balance between cost and comfort via Energate’s smart thermostat, which allows the consumers to automatically manage their homes with real-time pricing. In addition, the program accomplished these breakthrough results exclusively with pricing signals where consumers could choose to opt-in and select their level of participation. Price signals were delivered with high reliability to consumer devices, providing them with timely decision-making information and automatic response from Energate technology, based on personal preferences.

It costs more to produce electricity during peak periods of high customer demand, and other factors like weather conditions and the time of year also impact electrical prices and drive them higher. The OG&E SmartHours program allows its customers to save when costs are lower, or off-peak. Customers receive advance notice of peak price the day before so they can manage energy use more wisely. OG&E’s demand response program also includes dynamic pricing paired with the deployment of various types of in-home equipment and a customer web portal.

“Energate’s smart thermostats have enabled OG&E to interact with its customers with price signals and notifications to effectively reduce their peak consumption,” said Mike Farrell, director of customer programs at OG&E. “From the first customer study to our second year of deployment, Energate’s technology has sustained high performance results, proving to be an important contributing factor for reduced peak demand, which represents a key goal for OG&E and other utilities and their customers everywhere.”

“Dynamic pricing brings two major forces into the retail energy marketplace,” said Ahmad Faruqui, principal with The Brattle Group. “First, customer choice in the form of time-of-use rates that charge a higher price during all weekday peak hours and a discounted price during off-peak and weekend hours. And second, technological innovation in the form of smart thermostats, home area networks, web portals and in-home displays. The ongoing collaboration between OG&E and Energate illustrate these two forces at work.

“Strong findings from OG&E’s two-year pilot program have encouraged OG&E, which is on track to enrolling one of every five residential customers to the program in the short span of three years,” Fariqui added. “Consumers are provided smart thermostats to take advantage of incentives embodied in the rate design. Initial reports suggest that customer satisfaction levels are very high.”

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