Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Smart grids help FPL save more than $46m

Steve Rogerson
March 3, 2016
 
Florida Power & Light (FPL) has announced that its investments in developing a stronger and smarter grid continued to pay off for its customers in 2015, contributing to the best reliability performance in the company's history and delivering more than $46m in operational savings, which helped to keep bills low.
 
"We have made remarkable strides in our ability to monitor and manage the electric system today compared to just a few years ago," said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. "The smart meters on homes and businesses, together with thousands of intelligent devices installed on our poles and wires, provide unprecedented visibility across the grid, allowing FPL to detect and prevent many issues before they become problems for our customers."
 
FPL outlined its 2015 smart grid achievements in its annual programme report, filed this week with the Florida Public Service Commission. The 2015 smart grid operational savings of $46m are an increase over the more than $30m in savings realised in 2014, due to efficiencies enabled by smart meters. Part of these savings are also due to the avoidance of restoration trips and, along with them, unnecessary costs associated with dispatching lorries and other related costs that ultimately are paid for by customers – more than 200,000 fewer field visits since 2012.
 
For several years, FPL has been investing in smart grid technology and using predictive analytics to deliver real-time data directly to technicians in the field and engineers in the company's diagnostic centres. Engineers, in turn, analyse the data to measure and improve electric grid performance. In fact, smart grid technology is increasingly helping FPL identify power outages, often times before they occur, further improving service restoration times and operational efficiencies.
 
In total, FPL has installed more than 4.8 million smart meters for customers. As a result, customers benefit from faster, more convenient service connection and disconnection when opening or closing accounts. Smart meters also allow consumers to manage their energy use better through their FPL Energy Dashboard. The dashboard, which received record traffic in 2015 with more than 3.5 million visits, gives customers access to more information and control over their electricity usage.
 
"The enhanced FPL Energy Dashboard allows unprecedented customer control over energy usage – customers with smart meters can see their energy use by the hour, day and month," said Marlene Santos, vice president of customer service for FPL. "Customers are recognising the value of this. In fact, in 2015, FPL customers set a new record for visits."
 
In 2015, the company implemented several major upgrades to make the FPL Energy Dashboard even more useful for customers, including:

  • Localised weather data to help customers see how weather affects their electricity usage;
  • Improved compatibility with a wider variety of internet browsers; and
  • A grouping feature for business customers with multiple FPL accounts to display data in ways that better match how businesses manage their facilities.
Over the past five years, smart gird technology has helped FPL improve its service reliability by more than 25 per cent. The company was named the winner of the 2015 ReliabilityOne National Reliability Excellence Award by PA Consulting Group.
 
FPL is the third-largest electric utility in the USA, serving more than 4.8 million customer accounts or more than ten million people across nearly half of the state of Florida.