Naperville residents get to know Smart Grid technology
Flying cars still won't be all the rage in 2012 but more and more electric cars may be. And Naperville residents will get a break on their electricity bills for charging them up.
The benefit was one of several outlined by city and local utility officials Tuesday evening during an open house hosted by Naperville's Smart Grid Initiative Steering Committee to teach residents about their $356 million electric utility asset as it gradually phases in smart grid technology.
"This truly represents a modernization of our electrical grid," said Director of Public Utilities Mark Curran of the $22 million upgrade. "Our customers will be able to more accurately monitor how they are using electricity and that will hopefully, lead to savings."
Naperville is one of roughly 100 communities nationwide to pursue the new technology and the only municipality in the state selected for a Smart Grid Investment Grant by the U.S. Department of Energy from more than 500 applicants.
In addition to monitoring usage, all 57,233 customers will have access to new tools, if they choose to use them, that will empower them to better understand and manage their energy use. A new ePortal website soon will be launched to allow customers to view up to the minute energy use while learning about energy and money-saving options, additional voluntary rate programs that provide incentives for shifting energy use and enabling home electric vehicle charging stations at a discounted rate.
"I thought it would be a meter on my house that would monitor what I used and when but I never realized the control I could have," said resident Sharon Meyers. "I've heard I could save as much as $35 a month just by changing some habits so I'm anxious to see if that's true."
Not everyone is anxious, however, as opponents have let their concerns about the safety of the meters be known in recent months.
Representatives from meter manufacturer, Elster, were on hand to discuss the safety and reliability of their meters.
"This equipment is tried and tested to meet FCC standards before it leaves our facility," said Elster Project Manager Chris Kozlowski.
The nearly 200 residents attending the open house also got to tour the electric utility headquarters and test drive the all-electric Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt cars on site.
"This is a great opportunity for our residents to get a hands-on feel for what the city's electric future looks like," said city spokeswoman Nadja Lalvani. "We're pleased so many residents came out to get informed."