Utilities’ work with collaborative group, experience with pilot programs helped shape company plans
(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) – Louisville Gas and Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company announced today that, after months of meetings with representatives of customer groups, they plan to ask the Kentucky Public Service Commission for approval of a “Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity” to install 1.3 million advanced meters across the utilities’ service territories.
Advanced meters offer customers near-real-time energy-use information through a user-friendly online dashboard that provides insights into their energy consumption. The additional information gives customers the data to make decisions which can save them money. Advanced meters also allow utilities to better determine where outages are occurring, quickly diagnose the cause of the outage and, at times, respond more efficiently. In fact, power can sometimes be restored even before a customer reports an outage. The meters also provide streamlined meter-related processes and establish a foundation for a stronger energy grid, especially when combined with other automated technology.
“These meters offer our customers a host of benefits, including more detailed usage information to help them better manage their energy consumption, and faster restoration times,” said David Huff, director, Energy Efficiency and Emerging Technologies. “We’ve learned a great deal about advanced meters through the pilot programs we’ve offered over the years. Today’s advanced meters are much more sophisticated than those ten years ago, and we are receiving positive feedback from customers who participate in our current early adopter program.”
The utilities currently offer an Advanced Meter Early Adoption program available to interested customers and have studied advanced meters for nearly 20 years, gaining experience on the equipment’s capabilities. With a foundational understanding of the costs and benefits, the utilities requested full deployment of advanced meters in late 2016, but later withdrew their request and agreed to form a collaborative group of representative customers, to better understand their needs.
The collaborative, which included representatives from low-income groups, the Kentucky Attorney General’s office, Kentucky Industrial Utility Customers, the Kentucky School Board, Louisville Metro Government, Lexington-Fayette County Government and the Sierra Club, met monthly from July through November and developed a plan to help address questions and concerns from the various groups.
[Note: The Courier Journal is reporting that Kentucky Attorney General’s office is apparently NOT happy with the proposal. Here is the newspaper’s story on that: www.courier-journal.com.]
“Over the course of the meetings, we gained a better understanding of each other’s needs and were able to address the various questions from the members of the group,” Huff said.
Much of the discussions surrounded costs, the importance of data privacy and data empowerment, opt-out options and remote service switch operations associated with the meters.
One change since the original filing is that the utilities plan to offer an opt-out for customers who do not want advanced meters. Customers who choose to opt-out would be charged a set-up fee and an ongoing monthly charge to offset the costs associated with continuing manual meter reading processes under the utilities’ proposed cost-based opt-out charge structure.
Nationally, advanced meters are becoming the dominant metering technology with almost 50 percent of all meters already installed being advanced meters. In Kentucky, about 35 percent of all meters are already advanced meters and with the utilities’ proposal this would grow to about 95 percent of Kentucky’s 2.2 million meters. The utilities are proposing to invest about $350 million in this three-year project to provide customers with better energy management information and improve service. The cost would be more than offset by the savings and benefits advanced meters provide over their lifetime and is comparable to the amount other utilities have invested.
Louisville Gas and Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company, part of the PPL Corporation (NYSE: PPL) family of companies, are regulated utilities that serve nearly 1.3 million customers and have consistently ranked among the best companies for customer service in the United States. LG&E serves 324,000 natural gas and 407,000 electric customers in Louisville and 16 surrounding counties. KU serves 549,000 customers in 77 Kentucky counties and five counties in Virginia. More information is available at www.lge-ku.com and www.pplweb.com.