Whether or not the average American homeowner has much idea why, as of this month, almost one third of American households have made the leap from ye olde analog electric meter to the smarter, digital variety. This according to the latest report [PDF] from the Institute for Electric Efficiency (IEE). The organization predicts that by the middle of the decade, half the nation's households will be on board with smart meters.
All of which is good news for the environment, as smart meters and smart rate plans can help utilities more efficiently manage peak energy demands and help households save cash with smart rate plans. The report reveals, for example, that Oklahoma Gas & Electric's installation of smart meters has allowed the utility to defer the building of an additional power plant this decade.Peter Delaney of Oklahoma Gas & Electric’s CEO, said, in a statement, “Smart meters have changed the way we interact with our customers, and how our customers view and use electricity. Last year, over 90% of our customers on SmartHours, a peak sensitive time-of-use plan, saved money."
Lisa Wood, IEE executive director, notes that, according to the new report, 22 electric utilities across 16 states will have smart meters installed system-wide by the end of the year. And while, at present, such meters tend to simply offer more detailed usage information to customers at the end of the month -- along with incentive programs like Oklahoma Gas & Electric's SmartHours program -- utilities are beginning to use smart meter data to help customers conserve electricity in real time via such tools as notifications when usage is running high.“In parts of California and in Texas, for example," Wood said, "homeowners can go online to see how much electricity their home used in the previous day. This awareness prompts consumers to take steps to conserve."
The entire May 2012 IEE report on smart meter installations -- which also details deployments by utility and by state -- is available online [PDF].