Five Insights from CPS Energy’s Felecia Etheridge
Top consumer smart grid news hand-selected and brought to you by the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative.
Felecia Etheridge is the chief customer engagement officer of CPS Energy, and the word “engaged” probably describes her personality just as well as it describes her job. She recently spoke at SECC’s symposium co-located with the DistribuTECH show in San Antonio and shared a few of her local utility’s insights into empowering customers.
Duke Energy proposed a $62 million rebate program in North Carolina that it anticipates will grow rooftop solar by 200% over the next five years. Currently, Duke has 6,000 solar customers on its system with a capacity of more than 50 MW. The rebate would be $0.60/watt for residential solar systems up to 10 kWh, and an average rooftop installation would see savings of about $4,800.
Five utility companies have been recognized by SECC for implementing customer-focused energy ecosystems. Ameren Illinois has been awarded the Smart Energy Innovation Award for their distributed energy resource-focused microgrid initiative. CenterPoint Energy has been awarded the Culture Transformation Award for nurturing a transition to a more customer-focused company culture.
The city of Conway, Arkansas is planning to become the smartest city in America using Landis+Gyr’s IoT network platform to add intelligence to many of the utility services it provides. Conway Corp, which operates the city-owned multi-service utility system, is installing Landis+Gyr’s RF Mesh network to support advanced metering for electric and water customers, as well as its smart streetlighting initiative.
SRP has analyzed the initial results from a study of electric vehicle owners' charging habits, and has concluded TOU rates were effective at helping push those loads off peak, which will help the utility avoid building additional power plants. There are about 4,400 electric vehicle owners in SRP's territory, and the utility estimates they use more than 9,121 MWh each year. During the system's peak usage, EVs account for about 1 MW of demand.
When we talk about utilities, we tend to talk about infrastructure (pipes, wires, transformers, citygates) and the digital ways and means of evolving that infrastructure (new data points, analytics, the cloud). We can’t help it. We’re rather MacGyver-ish geeks that way about hardware and tech. It’s exciting stuff.
Hydroelectric facilities have historically generated the largest share of United States' renewable energy, but according to the U.S. EIA, that could change this year as wind's rapid growth catches up to hydro. Hydro provided 7.4% of total utility-scale generation last year, helped by what EIA called "a relatively wet year," but its generation is slated to fall to 6.5% this year and 6.6% in 2019.
Last year was a tough one for utilities trying to keep the lights on and restore power in the midst of hurricanes, polar vortices, and other extreme weather events. So, it's no surprise grid reliability is a big focus of the new technologies and services being unveiled at this year’s DistribuTECH conference.