Lakeland, Fla., March 2, 2011 — Florida-based Lakeland Electric is undertaking a new smart grid project designed to monitor customers' energy use and help electricity consumers lower their electric bills.
Installation of smart meters and an advanced metering infrastructure will help make this possible, along with a website where customers can see how much power they're using on a near real-time basis as well as the cost associated with that power usage.
Installation of the new meters, commencing March 2, 2011, is the first step in the overall smart grid initiative.
The smart grid is the evolution of the nation's utility grid to make it more effective, efficient and responsive to the needs of utility customers and the growing demands placed on our nation's power industry. Lakeland Electric was one of 100 utility companies to be chosen to integrate into the smart grid through funding by a federal grant.
Randall Dotson, project manager for the smart grid initiative, explains, "Smart meters are electronic meters that can transmit data directly to and from Lakeland Electric's office without the need for a meter reader to physically go to the home." As a result Lakeland Electric will be notified immediately via the smart meter if an outage occurs. Lakeland Electric's meter readers will be reassigned. No employees will be losing their jobs as a result of the change to smart meters.
Over the course of 18-24 months, Lakeland Electric will replace its current meters with the new Smart Meters. The installation schedule will soon be available at plugintosmart.com, the smart grid campaign website.
In early summer, customers will be able to log on to the Lakeland Electric website and view their usage on a near real-time basis. This will give customers the ability to better manage their power use, while empowering them to make modifications to their usage patterns if they so desire.
Many customers who do not have Internet access will be supplied with in-home displays that will provide basic usage information so they too can monitor their electric consumption.
In addition to the customer being able to view his or her near real-time energy use in terms of both wattage and dollars, they will have more choices when it comes to their billing.
Over the course of the next year, additional payment options will become available to Lakeland Electric customers: pre-payment, continued use of the existing tiered rate billing structure or switching to time of use billing.