Are Americans capable of saving money–and energy–with better information and better available plans concerning their electricity usage? The results from a smart metering pilot program in Washington, D.C. would indicate that the answer is ‘yes.’
In the program, called PowerCentsDC, Pepco residential consumers in the nation’s capital were offered different rate designs facilitated by smart meters. The results of the program found that participants voluntarily reduced their summer peak electricity demands when given a price signal to let them know when electricity rates would be highest. As a result, they saved money (although a recent release doesn’t say how much, exactly).
Among the different usage plans offered by PowerDentsDC, the ones that received the strongest opt-in response from customers were “critical peak pricing” (CPP) and plans that offered an hourly pricing. The CPP plan increased electricity prices five-fold for about 60 hours per year with power discounted slightly from regular rates during the remainder of the year. The hourly pricing plans included prices that vary hourly throughout the year and offered rebates to customers who curbed their usage during peak events, creating a “critical peak rebates.”
More than 90 percent of all participants saved money through PowerCentsDC rates, according to the non-profit Smart Meter Pilot Program, Inc. (SMPPI), which sponsored the pilot. A large majority of participants, when asked, stated their preference for the variable PowerCentsDC rates over the conventional flat rates Pepco has historically charged.