Central Vermont Public Service wants to install new meter technology

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(Host) Vermont’s largest electric utility wants to spend $40 million on new technology that will let the company and its customers use power more efficiently.

Central Vermont Public Service says it’s one of the biggest investments in company history.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) To start with, CVPS will install new electric meters throughout its territory. The meters will be linked through high speed communications with company headquarters, and can be read remotely.

The technology will save the company money. But Robert Young, the utility president, says customers will also benefit in the long run.

(Young) “The ultimate goal here is to one, provide customers a better ability to understand what power costs them, when they should use power to minimize bills.”

(Dillon) Since electricity costs more during times of high demand, a customer could decide to use appliances like clothes dryers when demand was low.

(Young) “There will be, in effect, a panel that will be in their house that will tell them things like if they’re using electricity now, what it’s going to cost them, sort of a cumulative total of what their bill had been up to that point… and other information that will help them make choices about whether they want to turn on or off electric equipment.”

(Dillon) The utility could also use the two-way communications technology to fine tune its own system.

(Young) “For example, maybe the ability in certain circumstances to be able shut off some equipment in a customer’s home to keep down peaks, with the customers’ approval of course.”

(Dillon) Electricity that’s produced at peak demand times is often the most polluting form of power generation. So the Conservation Law Foundation, a statewide environmental group, has embraced the CVPS plan.

Sandra Levine is a senior attorney at CLF.

(Levine) “It’s a good idea both from a cost perspective and from an environmental perspective. A study that the Department of Public Service did a while ago showed that simply by way of operations – money they can save on meter readings, and just better response when power goes out – it makes sense economically. As far as the environment, this can help support a wide range of energy efficiency efforts and can reduce power demand and thereby reduce pollution.”

(Dillon) The Department of Public Service represents ratepayers in utility issues. Department spokesman Steve Wark said the state will work with the utility on a pilot project that may serve as a model for other utilities.

(Wark) “The state sees the smart power proposal as an excellent way to move into the future to help utilities do a better job in managing not only the consumer services that are out there, but also the load demand.”

(Dillon) CVPS hopes to have a contract awarded for the new technology by this time next year.

For VPR News, I’m John Dillon.

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