Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) recently announced plans to offer its residential and small-business customers an opportunity to save money by better managing energy use. The pilot program, which will initially be offered to a limited number of customers, paves the way for tremendous long-term program potential, according to BGE. Participating residential customers will have access to wireless energy control devices, and business customers will have the ability to monitor energy prices, perform analyses to determine how various factors impact energy costs, and curtail load based on real-time prices and/or a paging signal from BGE.
BGE entered into an exclusive agreement with Powerweb Technologies to supply its Omni-Link Suite of Internet Energy Applications, the technology that will allow BGE to offer the services. Frank Bender, BGE’s retail services division vice president said, “We listen to our customers and understand their interest in using the Internet to obtain information and manage energy use costs. We continually look for innovations that provide our customers greater flexibility and tools to take advantage of the newly deregulated market. Omni-Link Energy Platform provides both.”
The pilot for both residential and business customers is scheduled to begin in February 2001 and continue into the fourth quarter. BGE is a member of the Constellation Energy Group, a holding company with energy business subsidiaries. BGE provides service to more than 1.1 million electric customers and more than 584,000 gas customers in central Maryland.
Two Southeastern U.S. Utilities Sign Pre-paid Metering Contracts
While prepaid metering has been slower to gain a foothold in the U.S. market than it has overseas, two recent contracts in the southeast United States indicate that U.S. utilities are showing interest in the technology.
CP&L Energy and Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) each recently selected Motorola’s PowerCom solution to provide a prepaid metering service to utility customers. Using PowerCom, CP&L in December began offering a new Prepaid Power Program to customers in the Wilmington, N.C., area. CP&L plans to test the program for one year in that area, then consider further program implementation throughout its service territory. OUC plans to begin its prepaid metering service sometime in the first quarter of 2001.
Customers participating in either of these prepaid metering programs will receive a PowerCom in-home display unit. The unit is designed to work automatically through existing house wiring. Customers purchase power on a smart card, which is used in conjunction with the in-home unit. Once customers have transferred money onto the smart card and inserted the card into the PowerCom display unit, power is turned on and the customer has full control of the service.
The prepaid metering programs in use at CP&L and OUC benefit customers by letting them control their power purchases and avoid deposits and connection charges. The utilities benefit by receiving payment upfront and reducing field visits for meter reading.
Motorola’s PowerCom solution was introduced in 1999.