Idaho Power has enlisted the international energy consulting giant Landis+Gyr to provide 450,000 smart meters over the next three years at a cost of around $10 million.
A similar number of two way communications devices will be provided from Aclara Power-Line Systems at a cost of $25 million. The system, called TWACS, transmits information over standard power lines. Idaho Power initially deployed the TWACS system as a pilot project of 25,000 units and was happy with the results. The TWACS units will be used to collect information at specific timer intervals both for precise billing and to provide support for advanced power management services such as time-of-use billing and demand response programs. With these services in place, Idaho Power will be better able to manage the power grid.
“We are pleased that Idaho Power has decided to expand its existing TWACS installation to meet its AMI (advanced metering infrastructure) needs within its vast service territory,” said Bruce Kessler, president of Aclara Power-Line Systems.
”We believe Aclara’s versatile, proven-at-scale power-line solution is the most cost-effective AMI system for utilities such as Idaho Power, which have both rural and urban service areas, to collect meter data and to provide advanced demand response and time-of-use programs to meet customers’ energy needs today and well into the future.”
The modules, working in conjunction with the smart meters from Landis+Gyr, will allow Idaho Power to deploy a smart power grid with sophisticated power meters throughout the service area that covers 24,000 square miles in both Oregon and Idaho. Transmitting information over power-lines is ideal in this situation as it would require the least amount of hardware in the largely rural territory.
Smart meters have also been a part of the pilot project that has been in place since 2004. Idaho Power has had four years to monitor power usage and identify times when demand for energy is at a peak. With the systems in place the power company has access to real-time power rates which enhances its ability to manage resources.
In the future, Idaho Power plans to introduce energy conservation a program including a variable pricing scheme based upon the time of day energy is consumed, and even net metering that would allow consumers to sell excess power generated at the home back to the power grid.
Since the smart meters can be read remotely, there is no longer a need to send out a human meter reader to track the amount of energy used. This would save considerable money for a company like Idaho Power with its vast rural territory.
The plan is still subject to approval from the Idaho Public Utilities Commission. If approval is granted, the installations will begin throughout the service territory in January of 2009, with the project due for completion in 2011.
The regulatory board is expected to approve the project; the group had ordered Idaho Power to deploy an advanced metering system previously.
“The potential benefits of advanced metering to ratepayers and the company are too great to delay,” said the commission in a released statement.
Idaho Power estimates the total cost of the project will surpass $70 million. Customers will eventually foot the bill through a rate increase, but that won’t happen right away. According to the regulatory commission, “the capital costs of the project will be in base rates as the meters are placed in service.”
Idaho Power 1221 W. Idaho St. Boise, ID 83702 https://www.idahopower.com
Landis+Gyr AG Feldstrasse 1 CH-6301 Zug http://www.landisgyr.com