El Paso Electric seeks approval for smart meters

  • May 17, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

Texas utility El Paso Electric plans to deploy an advanced metering system (AMS) if approved by local regulators.

Access to detailed energy use and billing information, quicker response times to power outages, empowered users with energy-saving tools, and improved customer service are the goals for the utility as it files its AMS deployment plan for approval by the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT).

With 80 per cent of EPE’s service territory located in west Texas, the company’s Texas service territory will join the rest of the state in offering this technology and its accompanying services to its customers.

“Every other major city in Texas has proven that this technology not only works but goes beyond by empowering customers with information and data on how to improve their energy usage,” said EPE CEO Kelly Tomblin. “At the same time, it enables the electric utility to respond quickly to customer demand and outages. Our intention of introducing AMS to our region is to provide our Texas customers with the energy management tools they deserve that the rest of the state has come to know and enjoy for the last several years. These tools will become even more important as we increase transportation electrification and want to offer dynamic electric prices that provide lower rates during low cost periods.”

With the implementation of AMS technology, EPE will establish the foundation for grid modernisation that will enable significant customer benefits. The technology inside the meters will allow for two-way communication between meters and EPE, offering improved customer access to their energy data. Detailed, near-real-time usage information gives users more visibility and control over their energy use. And 15-minute data increments will show residential users their own energy use patterns and times of day they use the most energy, and every five minutes for commercial users.

Outage locations and problems can be identified more efficiently, allowing for faster power restoration.

The data gathered by the meters will assist customer care representatives in expediting and more effectively addressing billing questions and concerns.

Users will be able to monitor costs with online access to customised energy usage analytics and get personalised tips to help avoid high bills. They will be able to identify and take advantage of dynamic customer pricing programmes such as time-of-use, prepay and other pricing rates that best match individual energy consumption behaviour.

The meters can be read and controlled remotely by EPE, meaning no more waiting for estimated bills or meter read technicians allowing for easier service activations or transfers.

Data analytics can help users review and understand how their energy use compares to the previous year and to that of neighbouring homes.

If approved, the plan will begin with the implementation of data management systems and the installation of the communication network in 2022. Deployment of over 400,000 meters will follow thereafter starting in 2023 with an expected completion in 2025.

El Paso Electric is a regional electric utility providing generation, transmission and distribution service to approximately 443,240 retail and wholesale customers in a 25,000-square kilometre area of the Rio Grande valley in west Texas and southern New Mexico.