By year's end, Naperville residents can check electricity use in detail online
A long-awaited online electricity management tool now is expected to be available to Naperville customers by the end of the year.
City staff members are conducting final testing and cyber security audits to ensure a portal where customers can view and compare their electric use in detail is ready to go live before 2020, said Brian Groth, deputy director of the electric utility.
The planned release comes in time for water customers to begin using the portal as well, once the city switches to an automated system for reading water meters, Water Utility Director Darrell Blenniss said. That change could be in the works as soon as next year.
The anticipated launch of the electricity portal comes more than six years after the technology originally was intended to be available through the city's switch to smart meters. City spokeswoman Linda LaCloche said there have been several "starts and stops" in the portal's development process.
The city originally contracted with Calico Energy Inc. of Bellevue, Washington, to create an "ePortal" for electric-use management, setting a deadline to receive the technology in August 2013.
But the vendor told the city it could not deliver the system, leading the city to sue. The lawsuit, settled in October 2014, brought back $675,000 of the $800,000 the city paid.
The city then tested a portal created by Canadian company Lowfoot, but it didn't provide all the features and functions the city desired.
"After we litigated and ultimately recovered our funds from the initial portal provider, no one really met exactly what we wanted to release," Groth said. "Then we began development in-house. We're ready to deploy by the end of this year."
The Naperville-built portal integrates weather data with electric-use information, allowing customers to look for patterns in their consumption monthly, day-by-day or even down to 15-minute increments in "very near real-time," Groth said.
For water customers, this could improve leak detection, officials said. And for users of both utilities, detailed consumption information could lead to conservation.
"You're able to see that in a more timely fashion, where you can really impact that energy usage more," Deputy City Manager Marcie Schatz said.
The city-developed portal initially was expected to be available in spring 2017.
But the city is implementing upgrades to its back-end systems, by switching to new technology that can allow more features such as online bill payments, LaCloche said. Officials waited to ensure the portal will coordinate well with the other new online systems.