DOE representatives look into the brain of the intelligent grid at CenterPoint Energy's technology center.

CenterPoint Energy Continues to Lead in Comprehensive Smart Grid Technology

April 13, 2015
More than five years after receiving a $200 million federal Smart Grid Investment Grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for the acceleration of smart meter deployment

More than five years after receiving a $200 million federal Smart Grid Investment Grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for the acceleration of smart meter deployment and Intelligent Grid implementation, CenterPoint Energy in Houston, Texas, continues to lead the nation in electric grid optimization. The company was one of only six utilities awarded the maximum grant amount by the DOE in 2009, with $150 million used toward smart meter deployment and the remaining $50 million toward implementation of the IG system.

"Through these advancements in smart grid technology, made possible in part by the Department of Energy, we have seen significant improvement in reliability, are able to provide better service to customers and improve air quality in our community," said Kenny Mercado, senior vice president of Electric Operations for CenterPoint Energy. "This is a large step forward for CenterPoint Energy and will provide the basis for long-term advancements in how we operate our system."

"I want to thank CenterPoint Energy publicly for their partnership and congratulate them and all the businesses who worked so closely with them on the successful completion of the ambitious grid modernization project," said Dr. Franklin Orr, undersecretary for Science and Energy of the U.S. Department of Energy. "Houston's grid is more resilient and more efficient and enhances consumer experience, all at the same time."

Consumer benefits

Since beginning the smart meter deployment in 2009 (the project was completed three years later), and beginning construction of the Intelligent Grid in 2010 on 13 percent of the company's overhead circuits, CenterPoint Energy has achieved several notable milestones including:

  • Executing more than 11 million electronic service orders (e.g. turn on/off service), resulting in:
    • Vehicle fuel savings of more than 1 million gallons
    • Avoidance of more than 9,300 metric tons of CO2 emissions,
  • Restoring power to nearly 1.2 million customers without a phone call,
  • Avoiding more than 102 million customer outage minutes and
  • Improving power reliability by 28 percent when using the IG in 2014 alone.

CenterPoint Energy has installed more than 2.3 million smart meters throughout the company's 5,000-square-mile service territory, including the Greater Houston area. Among the benefits resulting from this technology, more than 400,000 customers enrolled in the company's new Power Alert Service receive automated alerts by text, email and/or phone call about an outage, including the cause, an estimated restoration time and confirmation when power has been restored.

With the sensors and automated switches of the IG, which the company plans to extend across its remaining circuits, CenterPoint Energy can more quickly identify and isolate power outage locations.

Recent advancements

Recently, the company rolled out the Advanced Distribution Management System (ADMS), an integrated network of upgraded systems and new software that will be the "brain" of CenterPoint Energy's IG.

ADMS will use real-time smart meter and Intelligent Grid switching device data to better plan, engineer and operate the grid; provide faster, more accurate information on outage types and locations; make dispatching of crews more efficient; reduce outage duration; and improve reliability and customer service.

"The company remains strongly committed to delivering valuable benefits to consumers and the environment. That commitment was most recently evident through the implementation of the Advanced Distribution Management System," said Mercado. "The future of delivering energy presents challenges on many fronts, and CenterPoint Energy has continued to identify and implement sustainable solutions that address those challenges, while delivering safe, reliable and environmentally responsible energy to meet the needs of our customers today and in the future."

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