Online energy management coming to Naperville after years of delays

  • The smart electric meters now in use in Naperville, left, are soon to feed data into an online energy management system that will allow electric customers to monitor their power use by the hour, day or month. The online system is expected to launch next spring after a cyber security test to determine the data will not be compromised.

    The smart electric meters now in use in Naperville, left, are soon to feed data into an online energy management system that will allow electric customers to monitor their power use by the hour, day or month. The online system is expected to launch next spring after a cyber security test to determine the data will not be compromised. Daily Herald file photo December 2009

 
 
Updated 11/18/2016 8:46 AM

Naperville electric customers should be able to manage their power use online starting this spring.

The city is soon to commission a cyber security study to ensure data transmitted through a new online energy management system will be safe before launching the service to customers early next year, Mark Curran, electric utility director, said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The system, designed in-house by city staff members, will allow customers to compare their electric use month-to-month, hour-by-hour or day-by-day to determine when they use the most power and if there are ways to decrease their consumption.

"It has a lot of good ways to sort the data," Curran said.

Viewing electric use by time of day also might help users delay some electric functions until off-peak times, decreasing the city's maximum usage at any one moment and helping to lower costs, officials say.

Online energy management is a long-awaited part of the city's upgrade beginning in 2010 to smart meters that wirelessly transmit electric use to the grid.

The function was scheduled to be available by August 2013, but vendor Calico Energy Inc. of Bellevue, Washington, told the city it could not deliver the system and eventually returned $675,000 of the $800,000 it had been paid to settle a lawsuit.

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Then in 2014, a small group of electric users tested an online energy management system provided by a Canadian company called Lowfoot.

City spokeswoman Linda LaCloche said Naperville chose not to contract with that company to expand the system citywide because there were delays in transferring the data between the city's electric utility, the outside contractor and the customer.

That's why Curran said he turned to "innovation" by members of the city staff, who are putting the finishing touches on the online tool.

Curran said he expects to bring a contract for the cyber security test to the city council for consideration next month. Once the test is completed, the city will provide instructions allowing customers to sign up to see their energy use stats online.

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