SOURCE: Colorado Springs Utilities

Colorado Springs Utilities

June 05, 2009 16:26 ET

New Smart Grid Technology Creates National Buzz

Colorado Springs Utilities Is Laying the Foundation Here at Home

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO--(Marketwire - June 5, 2009) - Colorado Springs Utilities is setting the stage for our very own Smart Grid, nearing completion of our Automated Meter Reading (AMR) project. With these new smart meters, we can monitor, control and better manage our utility systems to provide operational, financial and environmental benefits.

"This technology provides customers with a better understanding and management of their consumption, and more hands on control over the cost of their monthly bills," said Jerry Forte, Springs Utilities' Chief Executive Officer.

We started our AMR project four years ago, and with only 80,000 meters left to install, we'll soon be one of only four utilities with three service AMR capability: electric, natural gas and water. At full deployment in 2010, we will have installed more than 530,000 smart meters.

"Our drive for innovation gives Springs Utilities one of the nation's most advanced multi-energy solutions," said Tracy Moore, Senior Vice President, General Manager Services for Landis+Gyr, about Springs Utilities smart metering technology.

Using wireless radio transmitters, AMR remotely reads customer meters and then transfers the data into the billing system, reducing the need for meter readers to manually gather utility meter reads each month. It provides daily meter reads, which has the potential to show customers a true picture of their utilities use so they can conserve and better manage their bills.

"We combined AMR, Distribution Automation, Customer Energy Management and Renewable Generation to create the beginnings of a Smart Grid for our customers, much like those across the nation," said Gina McCurley, AMR project manager. "We've actually been doing this all along."

In addition to AMR, we recently partnered with General Electric to install a new Smart Grid tool, an Outage Management System (OMS), to help us respond quicker to power outages and provide our customers with timely restoration time estimates. OMS will expedite the restoration process by identifying outage locations and immediately dispatching crews to the location.

"OMS will reduce the outage impacts to our customers," said Forte. "It will provide better and more frequent communication to them, track outages in more real-time and ultimately get the power on faster."

Once AMR is complete, OMS will integrate into our smart metering infrastructure for an all inclusive package.

Benefits of AMR:

-- Labor cost savings through elimination of meter readers
-- Fewer vehicles are necessary for the meter reading process, reducing
   dust and emissions, and decreasing the displacement and harassment to
   local wildlife.
-- A reduction in operational costs
-- Controlled meter reading costs
-- Improved customer service includes:
     -- Minimizing the need to access customer property to read meters
     -- Reducing customer complaints and damage claims resulting from
        monthly visits to customer site
     -- Call resolution improvement -- billing complaint calls will be
        handled more quickly due to availability of more frequent meter
     -- No need for customers to read their own meters due to meter access
     -- Improved billing accuracy
-- Fewer employee injuries, especially in areas with fenced yards, dogs
   and landscaping

Current and future components of our evolving Smart Grid:

Advanced Metering Infrastructure

--  Improved billing accuracy
--  Call resolution improvement -- billing complaint calls will be handled
    more quickly due to availability of more frequent meter readings

Distribution Automation

--  Electric outage management system that allows quicker response to
    customers during outage events

Customer Energy Management

--  Residential customers can adjust their central air conditioning
    thermostat via the web
--  Commercial customers can see consumption data up to the previous day
    or actual day
--  Provide customers with consumption data up to the day before

Distributed and Renewable Generation

--  Help customers establish hydro, wind, solar and geothermal systems for
    added efficiency, cost savings and environmental protection

Colorado Springs Utilities is a four-service, municipally-owned utility providing the Pikes Peak Region with water, wastewater, natural gas and electric services.

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