The first hint of smart meter benefits?

smart_meter_and_salazar
‘Say hello to my little friend.’ Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar (with smart meter in foreground) announces CenterPoint Energy’s $200 million federal stimulus grant to accelerate smart meter projects in late October. (Johnny Hanson/Chronicle)

Reliant Energy and TXU are starting to offer time-of-use plans for customers in the Dallas area with smart meters installed, while Reliant is rolling out the same in Houston too.
These are plans that charge more during times of peak usage and less during the off hours as a way to encourage customers to shift their load to off-peak.
In Houston, Reliant has three levels April thru October: 11.6 cents off-peak, 13.4 cents standard and 15.6 cents on- peak. November thru March it’s 11.6 cents off-peak and 13.4 cents.
In Dallas TXU charges 8.9 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity used off peak, 24.3 cents on peak (1 p.m. to 6 p.m.) from May to October. Customers also get a free thermostat that shows how much power they are using or a $75 Visa gift card. Reliant is about to change its rates in Dallas this week so we’ll leave them out of this right now.
To some (ok, me) time-of-use plans are the Holy Grail of smart-meter benefits because they reveal the true cost of power to customers. In theory they will reward customers for frugal behavior.
Don’t get me wrong: letting my fridge talk to my electric meter so it knows when it’s the best time of day to defrost would be nice, and being able to monitor and control all my home electronics remotely would be cool, as some smart-meter pilots have done. But I’d much rather get a break on my bill for waiting to run the washer and drier after dinner.

SHOW MORE