Residential hourly pricing programs have been operating in Illinois for the past seven years. In that time, the 22,000 households that have participated have saved 10 percent to 16 percent on average. Now, new data from ComEd’s Smart Meter pilot confirms that more widespread hourly pricing participation would result in substantial customer benefits.
Smart, or AMI, meters allow utilities to collect hourly electricity usage data on a widespread basis. In 2010 and 2011, ComEd has implemented an ICC-approved pilot program to test the installation and use of AMI meters. This pilot included 120,000 customers in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood and several Chicago-area suburbs along the I-290 corridor, including Oak Park, River Forest, Berwyn, and Maywood.
While Illinois’ residential hourly pricing programs are currently saving participating customers money, the potential benefit of these programs for a wide customer base has never been measured because non-participating customers’ hourly usage data was not available. ComEd’s AMI pilot has provided that data.
CNT has analyzed the electricity usage of nearly 84,000 residential customers in the AMI pilot who had AMI meters installed for a full year. The analysis found that:
- More than two thirds of households in the study would have saved money without changing their usage patterns if they had been enrolled in a voluntary hourly pricing plan rather than on flat rates;
- These customers would have saved more than $8.7 million if they had taken advantage of hourly pricing, as compared to the standard flat rates, during the one-year study period; and
- These customers would have saved an average of $153 per household over the year.
ComEd’s Smart Metering pilot indicates that AMI meters open the way for substantial customer savings. This should be taken into account when assessing the value of any smart grid proposal. Customers with AMI meters can access detailed usage information that shows whether they would be better off under an hourly pricing plan. With this information, customers can then access these savings, which can be substantial. With education on how to use energy in the most efficient manner, and at the lowest priced times, customers can increase savings even more.