Archive for the ‘ Innovation ’ Category

ABACCUS Report Cites Texas Electricity Market Design as Most Successful in North America

In the Annual Baseline Assessment of Choice in Canada and the United States (ABACCUS) report  released by the Distributed Energy Financial Group LLC (DEFG), Texas was once again found to be the top competitive market in North America. From the release:

The report identifies North American electricity markets that have successfully restructured to allow direct access or consumer choice and explains the policy choices that led to those successes.

“In Texas we refuse to rest on our laurels and have every intention of remaining number one by continuing to add features in our nation’s leading electricity market,” said Donna L. Nelson, chairman of the Public Utility Commission of Texas. “We keep finding ways to increase customer value in the marketplace through smart grid innovations and ongoing improvements in the shopping experience, just to name a few.”

DEFG found in its research that the Texas retail electricity market is very competitive for all customer classes. Texans in competitive areas are engaging in the market in record numbers and making choices to meet their energy needs. The depth and breadth of retail electricity offers is unparalleled in Texas. Approximately 40 retail energy suppliers compete for residential customers in competitive areas of the state by offering a broad range of products and services designed to meet customers’ needs.

DEFG also noted the innovation in the ERCOT competitive market:

Texas continues to see a surge in consumer‐driven product and service innovation. New smart grid infrastructure investments – advanced meters, mobile communications and control devices, and in‐ home usage displays – allow entrepreneurial retail energy suppliers to develop innovative pricing and service choices.

Read the full release here.

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Smart meters bring savings and reliability to consumers

Smart meters—also known as “advanced meters” or “digital meters” — are here for over 6 million Texas households, and they could revolutionize the way our electric system works.

The new meters replace 50-year-old meter technology. Think of all the ways technology has changed over the past 50 years: in the 1950s, computers were operated by punch-cards, and the state-of-the-art mobile phone—the Mobile System A—weighed 88 pounds.

Smart meters empower customers to take control over their own energy use

Right now, customers with smart meters can use Smart Meter Texas to track their energy use. The free online portal can track electric usage in monthly, daily and fifteen-minute intervals, allowing customers to view and adjust their energy use before getting their monthly bill. With the help of his Smart Meter Texas web portal, one Arlington homeowner was able to save 33 percent on his electric bill for the year.

CenterPoint Energy and Oncor also launched the Biggest Energy Saver contest last year to reward consumers who make the most of their smart meter data to reduce their energy usage and save on their electric bills. With the help of data from his smart meter and the Smart Meter Texas web portal, a Houston resident was able to cut his electricity use by 36 percent. A Pflugerville resident reduced his home’s energy usage by more than 39 percent.

Plus, smart meters give consumers more privacy, since they can be read remotely, and remote connection and disconnection of service lets consumers start or stop service or change Retail Electric Providers (REPs) faster at lower cost.

Smart meters help keep the lights on

Smart meters not only can help you save energy and money, they can also improve reliability. The new meters can automatically notify utilities when power is lost, so that power can be restored more quickly. Smart meters can even detect some problems before they lead to power outages.

Smart meters can also help reduce power demand when the electricity grid is strained by facilitating demand response. During peak times, when grid operators ask for help, utilities can coordinate with some of their customers—homeowners and small businesses—who voluntarily agree to reduce their energy usage. In exchange, an electricity provider may offer a customer a free thermostat or an equivalent incentive for reducing their energy use.

REPs already on board

Reliant Energy offers several plans and products that take advantage of new smart meter technology. For example, the Reliant e-Sense Keep Your Cash Nights & Weekends plan discounts electricity used on weeknights from 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. and all weekend long; other time-of-use plans allow customers to receive a lower price during off-peak hours.

TXU Energy plans include “Energy Free Nights,” which eliminates the energy charges from 10 PM to 6 AM, and free web-based information services that help customers better understand how and when they use electricity so they can reduce usage and save money on electricity bills

In short, energy technology is changing for the better, giving us more information to manage the energy we use, while enjoying greater convenience and reliability.

Click here to download “Electric 101: Smart Grid Technology”

ERCOT: Energy Saver app places conservation awareness at consumers’ fingertips

From the release:

While Texas is not suffering from the relentless heat that characterized 2011, the dog days of summer are definitely here. With the help of the ERCOT Energy Saver app, consumers in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) region now know in real-time when soaring temperatures and tight grid conditions make it more important to reduce their electricity use…

ERCOT launched the mobile app in mid-June, not long before the first heat wave of 2012 brought high temperatures and record June demand to the ERCOT region. The app provides real-time grid conditions, conservation tips and, most notably, notifications when conservation is most important for users who enable the notification feature.

To read the full release, click here.

ERCOT unveils mobile phone app

See below for the release from ERCOT:

Want real-time updates on the ERCOT grid—and tips on how to effectively conserve electricity during peak times? Now there is a free smartphone app that will make energy conservation a little bit easier for iPhone, iPad and Android users.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the grid operator for most of Texas, unveiled its long-anticipated mobile app today. The initial version includes current system operating conditions, conservation tips and an overview of ERCOT.

Most notably, the app will provide “push” notifications straight to Apple and Android devices. When ERCOT is experiencing high demand and conservation is critical, users who enable the feature will receive alerts notifying them of the situation. That’s also when the conservation tips page will be especially useful.

“ERCOT is committed to using every avenue available to communicate with consumers about the need for conservation during the hours of 3-7 p.m.” said ERCOT External Affairs Director Theresa Gage. “Texans who conserved during the summer of 2011 were vital to keeping the electric grid strong. We hope people in the ERCOT region will adopt this new energy conservation tool during summer 2012.”

iPhone, iPad and Android users can find the free ERCOT Energy Saver app by searching for ERCOT in the Apple and Google app stores. Over time, additional features may become available, depending on system needs and user feedback.

Frequently Asked Questions on Advanced Metering

To download a PDF of this FAQ, click here.

Texas is among the nation’s leaders in rolling out advanced metering technology. Sometimes called “smart meters,” these devices allow for two-way communication between the home or business and the electric utility, providing benefits for consumers.

Advanced meters and associated products help consumers understand the impact of controlling their energy consumption, better managing their bills and reducing their environmental impact. They also automate utility functions, such as meter reading and connection for new service. This reduces the cost of service as well as emissions from utility trucks.

Advanced metering will allow retailers and utilities to offer new, time-of-use products to interested consumers, thus promoting adoption of energy efficiency technologies and reduced electric consumption. In addition, a fully-deployed advanced metering system allows electric grids to operate more efficiently, creating system-wide improvements in reliability and reduced emissions.

See after the jump for responses to common questions regarding advanced meters and the smart grid.

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Consumers Continue to Benefit from the Competitive Retail Market in ERCOT

Click here to download a PDF of this issue paper.

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), average U.S. residential electricity prices will increase to 11.87¢/kWh in 2012, then fall to 11.62¢/kWh in 2013. Let’s compare with prices available in the ERCOT competitive retail market.

In each service territory, consumers can shop for prices far lower than the national average. Electric plans and programs can include fixed price options, renewable power choices, reward programs and other options.

Click here to download a PDF of this issue paper.

Winners Announced for Oncor and CenterPoint’s “Biggest Energy Saver” Contest

From Texas Energy Report:

Rodrigo Reyna of Pflugerville, who just won a Chevy Volt Grand Prize from Oncor in a Biggest Energy Saver contest, says he lives in a big house with a small electric bill.

He told the Texas Public Utility Commission Thursday that he, his wife and his three daughters have always been energy conscious, but the contest taught them they could slash their energy use 39 percent over last year’s bill.

That’s the greatest consumption cut achieved in the contest that challenged Oncor and CenterPoint customers to cut their year-to-year home energy use with the help of Smart Meter technology between August and September.

The full piece is subscription only, but most interesting was the simple, low-tech ways the family reduced energy consumption, even during on of the hottest summers on record in Texas:

The family, whose daughters are either in their teens or early college years, turned off lights that were energy-efficient already, he said. They also used power strips for electronics like DVRs, televisions and DVD/game players. The family upgraded its air conditioning unit and used energy-efficient settings with a programmable thermostat. They also sealed ducts and pulled out their laundry from the drying machine halfway and hung the damp clothes on lines.