Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Pacific Power rolling out half a million smart meters

Steve Rogerson
January 16, 2018



Pacific Power is replacing 590,000 traditional electric meters in Oregon homes and businesses with digital smart meters. The installations will roll out region by region throughout 2018 and into the autumn of 2019.
 
These meters will provide users, including those in many of Oregon's rural communities, with the timely information they need to make decisions about electric usage and enable smarter, more efficient management of the power grid.
 
"Installing smart meters is a key step towards the power grid of the future here in Oregon and our customers throughout the state all benefit," said Stefan Bird, Pacific Power president and CEO. "By vastly improving our meter technology, we can deliver power more reliably and shorten outages, save costs and allow for better management of renewable sources."
 
More than 70 million smart meters have been installed nationwide, equivalent to half of the households in the USA. Smart meters are a key component to updating an aging energy grid, and can make it possible to adjust the flow of energy to meet specific needs, and support both rising technological demands and a clean energy future.
 
Access to daily energy usage information will be available to consumers via a secure web site. This near real-time energy usage information will let users better understand what is driving their electric bills and help them make decisions that can save energy and money. This capability will come about six weeks after a new meter is installed.
 
The meters should help hold down operating costs and improve customer service and reliability while maintaining standards of security and customer privacy.
 
Smart meters instantly track outages, meaning faster service response and shorter outages overall. Users will be able to view their power usage hour by hour, get a forecast of their next bill, and set alerts so they can adjust their activity to reduce both their carbon footprint and bill.
 
Businesses will be able to get more detailed usage reporting, which will help them cut costs and make investments in items that help their business grow. The updated grid should work more efficiently with, and will help better integrate, renewable power sources.
 
"We are connecting our small communities throughout Oregon in a way that improves the reliability and efficiency of the grid, both at home and at work," said Bird. "With smart meter technology now mature, proven and available at competitive prices, we can deliver the benefits without any additional cost to customers."
 
Installations began last week in Independence, the small pioneer town west of Salem that has received attention for its smart city, smart rural upgrades such as gigabyte high-speed internet access, renewable power and an updated downtown core. The addition of smart meters will help the city continue to attract tech business to the region and support residents and local businesses with resources that help them live and work better.
 
"Our city's history is still being made," said Shawn Irvine, director of economic development for Independence, which was settled by Oregon Trail pioneers in 1847 and has a population of more than 9000 today. "We're proud to be in the forefront of this new technology surge that will give our citizens timely information that will let them truly take over day-to-day management of their energy costs. Now that is Independence."