In 2007, Pepco embarked on a journey called the Blueprint for the Future. This visionary plan consists of an array of energy efficiency programs, the promotion of renewable energy and the deployment of smart meters, part of an initiative known as advanced meter infrastructure or AMI. In 1986, when I began my career, Pepco was beginning to aggressively promote energy efficiency and load management programs, so I knew how effective the Blueprint energy efficiency programs could be if properly implemented. At that time, there was very little discussion about renewable energy, electric vehicles or smart meters, but today these are critical components of our Blueprint plan and AMI — especially smart meters.
With support from our government partners in the District of Columbia and Maryland, we received approval from state and local regulatory agencies to launch a series of electricity efficiency and load management programs for commercial and residential customers. The centerpiece of the Blueprint plan is AMI. You often hear AMI used interchangeably with the words “smart grid” and “smart meters,” which are aspects of AMI. We believe that AMI has the potential to become a game-changer to reduce the demand for electricity during peak times, when it costs the most for us to buy, and to reduce electricity consumption overall.
In 2009, our vision became a reality after Pepco was awarded a $150 million federal grant to fund 50 percent of project costs to fully deploy AMI throughout our entire service territory! During my career, this will be the greatest transformation of our electric distribution system. We have already installed advanced control systems that automatically isolate failed equipment and restore power in minutes to most of the affected customers.
Smart meters are just one component of AMI. It also includes smart relays and communication devices throughout the system that will serve as the ultimate enabler for renewable energy and electric vehicles. Through the smart meter, customers will be empowered to control their own energy consumption in real-time. This new meter also will provide Pepco with enhanced outage detection capabilities that will make the power restoration process more efficient.
We have made a lot of progress in 2011 with the smart meter installations. In the District of Columbia, we have already installed more than 200,000 meters and should finish installing the rest by the end of the year. Installations have begun in Maryland, and more than 500,000 meters will be installed by the end of 2012.
I often think of this project in phases of crawl, walk and run. Today, we are replacing meters. Next year, various benefits of the smart grid will be available which will enable our customers to better manage their energy use. And in many cases, your service will be restored remotely during a storm before you even get home to report it! Tomorrow the possibilities could include your control of home appliances via the Internet.
Pepco is focused on improving service reliability and long-term environmental sustainability for our customers. We’ve still got work to do. You can rely on us to get the job done! This is our commitment to you.
To learn more about our smart meter installment project, go to http://www.takecontroldc.com or contact an Energy Advisor at (202) 833-7500.
Thomas H. Graham
Pepco Region President