US utility Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) activated 52,000 smart meters in residential and commercial properties across the city this week as part of two-year pilot project Smart Grid LA.
The utility will introduce a web-based portal over the next couple of months allowing customers to monitor their own usage as well as compare with others in their locality.
Marvin Moon, director of power system engineering at LADWP, explains: "Right now people don’t even have a clue as far as what kind of usage they are or how they compare - are they an energy hog or a super miser?"
If successful, the smart metering pilot, which was funded by a US$60 million Department of Energy grant and US$60 million from LADWP, will be extended to the utility's service area.
At present, less than 5 per cent of the company's customer base is using smart metering technology.
The aim of the Smart Grid LA project is to find solutions to boosting the cyber security of the power grid and improve infrastructure for electric cars.
Meanwhile, in an initiative to improve energy efficiency, LADWP has awarded US$1,170,000 in a latest round of grants to 21 local non-profit organisations to promote energy efficiency and water conservation as part of its Community Partnership Grants program.
Ranging from US$45,000 to US$90,000 each, the grants were awarded to Los Angeles-based organisations for the purpose of reaching diverse communities, encouraging them to reduce their energy and water use to benefit the environment and help lower their utility bills.
Marcie Edwards, general manager at LADWP, said: “These substantial grants are an investment in education and awareness that will help us encourage more of our customers to conserve electricity and water as we transition to a more sustainable energy supply and deal with severe drought conditions.
“Continued conservation by all of our customers will be critical to the City’s long-term sustainability. The good news is the customers we reach will be able to take advantage of rebates and incentive programs already in place to help them reduce their water and electricity use and manage their utility costs at the same time.”
The community partnership grants are one part of a comprehensive package of energy efficiency and water conservation programs offered by LADWP that will help meet the Department’s goal of reducing energy consumption among customers by up to 15% by 2020 and further increase water conservation by customers.
Including this round of funding, the grants will have provided over $3 million in funding for 70 education and outreach projects designed to reach tens of thousands of residents and businesses.
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