smart grid technology

US utilities holding company Exelon announced its plans to invest US$25 billion in smart grid technologies over the next five years to ensure grid reliability.In a press statement, the firm said it will direct the capital to help its six utilities to strengthen their grids and improve customer service, paying particular attention to outage restoration.

The money will be used to enhance its existing smart grid technologies as well as deploy new innovative solutions such as smart sensors, switches and software to enhance its utilities' ability to automatically detect power outages.

In addition, the company will invest the capital in mobile apps and other social media platforms to ensure improved customer engagement and communication. [US utility PECO’s energy efficiency programme saves 2m Mwh].

[quote] Denis O’Brien, CEO of Exelon Utilities said: “Now, with the completion of the Pepco Holdings merger, we have a larger, more diverse team with more knowledge, best practices and resources to share. We will leverage our combined strengths to further improve storm response for our customers.”

With the acquisition of the utility's holding firm, Pepco Holdings, Exelon Utilities now comprises BGE, ComEd, PECO, Atlantic City Electric, Delmarva Power and Pepco power and gas companies.

In total, the company is now serving 22 million customers in seven US states.

To date, the company claims that its subsidies have invested substantially in smart grid technologies and equipment by upgrading substations, wires and poles, as well as in the deploy of 7.4 million smart meters. [US regulator orders utility BGE to slash opt-out fee by 50%].

Smart meters rollout

In a bid to ensure improved customer services and grid reliability, Exelon companies continue to deploy automated metering infrastructure (AMI) and other smart grid technologies, which provides them with two-way communication with their consumers.

However, it seems Exelon are striving to be leaders in the rollout of the systems.

Last week, ComEd said it will deploy an AMI project to enhance its operations in the city of Aurora in the state of Illinois, beginning this summer.

Commenting on the development, Mike McMahan, vice president of AMI implementation for ComEd, said: "Technology has moved on, so our standard now is the smart meter."

The utility plans to deploy some 61,000 smart electric meters as from August through to the end of 2016. However, the installation is more likely to stretch through to early 2017. The project aims to ensure accurate and remote meter reading, to curb non-revenue electricity, due to power theft and inadequate billing.

Since ComEd first began installing the smart meters on a country-wide basis in 2013, some 2.4 million metering points have so far been equipped with the new meters.