Naperville signs off on public smart grid

Naperville residents could begin seeing so-called “smart meters” installed at their homes by as early as summer.

City council members voted 8-1 Tuesday night to finance the final phase of a consulting contract for the Naperville Smart Grid Initiative, which ultimately aims to help the city and residents save energy and money.

The nearly $2 million payment toward the total $3.7 million contract is expected to cover the installation of the new network and the eventual placement of new meters at roughly 57,000 homes and businesses starting this summer and ending in 2012.

The Smart Grid is a $22 million upgrade to Naperville's nearly $360 million electric system that officials believe will cut energy costs for the city and its residents.

The smart meters are designed to help the city and residents do a better job of tracking energy use. Officials hope the ability to monitor consumption will encourage residents to use less energy or use it during off-peak hours.

Naperville is one of roughly 100 communities nationwide planning to install the new technology.

The city was conditionally awarded a U.S. Department of Energy matching-funds grant for its Smart Grid Initiative in October 2009 and the city agreed to move forward with the program in April 2010.

A “smart meter” is shown in Houston, where 2.2 million customers receive the service. It’s expected to be available in Naperville this summer. Associated Press
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