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What's Changing?

Customer Programs

Capabilities before grid modernization
Customer choice:
Customers have a limited range of rate choices.
New smart grid-enabled capabilities
Customer choice:
Enhancements to our infrastructure is paving the way for more energy rate choices to better suit individual customer needs, along with more energy- and cost-saving programs for customers.

Setup and billing

Capabilities before grid modernization
Billing accuracy:
Often, customer bills had to be estimated until the meter could be physically read.
Remote on/off capability:
Customers had to wait hours or even days to have new service connected or old service disconnected.
Customer billing information:
Customers received their monthly energy use information weeks after the end of the monthly billing cycle.
New smart grid-enabled capabilities
Billing accuracy:
New advanced meters send usage information directly to the utility, so customer bills no longer have to be estimated.
Remote on/off capability:
With smart meters, a utility can remotely connect or disconnect a customer's service.
Customer billing information:
Due to more accurate information provided by this digital technology, customers can use online tools to access near real-time information about their energy usage.

Outages

Capabilities before grid modernization
Problem identification:
Linemen were deployed to a general area of the grid — sometimes a stretch of more than 30 miles of line. They had to drive or walk along the line until they saw the cause of the outage.
Outage restoration:
Linemen would physically manipulate grid equipment to restore sections of the grid until the problem was fixed and all power could be restored.
Outage detection:
The utility had to rely on customers to inform them of an outage.
New smart grid-enabled capabilities
Problem identification:
Grid operators can pinpoint where a grid issue has occurred and direct linemen to a specific location. This removes guesswork and improves restoration time.
 
Outage restoration:
Intelligent devices on the grid can "self heal" to minimize the number of customers impacted by an outage while the problem area of the system is being restored.
Outage detection:
The utility can send signals to smart meters to check if a customer's power is on or off. This reduces the utility overall outage response times.

Reliability

Capabilities before grid modernization
System monitoring:
Operators relied on lineman and a limited number of analog alarms to inform them that there was trouble on a power circuit.
System optimization:
Operators used a limited number of data points to make decisions about how to reduce load on the grid to make it operate more efficiently.
New smart grid-enabled capabilities
System monitoring:
Line sensor, intelligent substations and communication devices provide real-time information on system health so that operators can proactively prevent many grid issues.
System optimization:
Digital distribution management systems can analyze thousands of data points every second — including weather, the wholesale cost of energy and energy demand — to determine how the grid may be configured to maximize operational efficiencies.