Washington, DC, U.S.A. --- (METERING.COM) --- February 1, 2013 - The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability has released four new reports reviewing the impacts to date of the projects funded under the Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG) program.

These are in the areas of demand reduction, operations and maintenance savings, reliability improvements, and application of automated controls.

The report on Demand reductions from the application of advanced metering infrastructure, time-based rates, and customer systems reviews progress on 62 projects, with a focus on three – at Oklahoma Gas and Electric (OG&E), Marble head Municipal Lighting Department (MMLD), and Sioux Valley Energy (SVE), which collectively offered time"based rates to about 7,000 customers. These demonstrated peak demand reductions up to 37%, showing that time"based rates can be used to reduce peak demand while achieving customer acceptance and, in many cases, bill reductions. In common with other studies, customer systems such as programmable thermostats, in-home displays and web portals are found to generally have beneficial effects for customers in responding to time"based rates.

The report on Operations and maintenance savings from the application of advanced metering infrastructure presents initial results from 15 projects out of the 63 that are installing advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) to improve operational efficiencies and support billing and customer services. These demonstrated a -13% to -77% improvement in meter operations cost and a -12% to -59% change in vehicle miles driven, fuel consumption, and CO2emissions. The cost reductions and productivity improvements observed are primarily related to reductions in labor and vehicle costs from remote meter reading, and automation of other billing"related services. It was also observed that projects that have completed deployment of their AMI systems generally observed larger cost reductions than those that have not yet completed deployment.

The report on Reliability improvements from the application of distribution automation technologies and systems is based on a review of 48 projects that are seeking to improve electric distribution system reliability. Among the initial results are that projects with automated feeder switching were able to reduce the frequency of outages, the number of customers affected by both sustained outages and momentary interruptions, and the total amount of time that customers were without power (as measured by customer minutes interrupted). However, in most cases, the projects were not yet using the full set of automated capabilities. Questions are also raised about the usefulness of CAIDI as an index for measuring the effects of automated feeder switching on the duration of customer interruptions.

The Application of automated controls for voltage and reactive power management report reviews 26 projects that are implementing advanced voltage and volt-ampere reactive (VAR) optimization technologies to improve electric distribution system operations. Among the early results, for the 31 feeders for which projects have reported hourly load data, one-half are witnessing line loss reductions in the range of 0% to 5%, and 5 feeders experienced loss reductions greater than 5%. In general, feeders with the worst baseline power factors (i.e., those with the highest amount of inductive loads) showed the greatest reductions in line losses. For conservation voltage reductions the initial results indicate a potential for peak demand reductions of approximately 1% to 2.5%, which is consistent with project expectations.

A fifth report is planned for later this year that addresses the application of synchrophasor technologies for electric transmission systems.