By Tim Priebe
September 6, 2022

Edmond Electric Smart Choice launches

The rollout of new electric and water smart meters will take 18 to 24 months.
Edmond Electric will replace all commercial and residential electric and water meters across the city. (Photo: Brent Fuchs)

In 2019, the Edmond City Council approved the implementation of Edmond Electric’s Smart Choice program, which would install smart meters in commercial and residential properties across the city. Despite delays due to the pandemic, Smart Choice has begun rolling out to Edmond businesses and residents, bringing more insight into electric and water usage and sharing vital information about service disruptions. 

Smart meters

Edmond Electric began rolling out their new smart meters to local properties in early August. Executive Director Glenn Fisher led the charge and kept the initiative moving over the last three years. 

“I always say I hate the term smart meters because there’s nothing smart about the meters. They record the same kilowatt demand and energy information that the meters have always recorded,” said Fisher. “The difference between a regular electronic meter and a smart meter is the smart meter has a radio that allows you to communicate that information back to the customer and back to the utility quicker.”

Around 85% of residential meters in the state of Oklahoma are already smart meters, so this upgrade brings Edmond’s service up to 21st-century standards. Previously, customers used analog meters, which Fisher refers to as “the rotary phones of the metering world.” 

“This gives us a lot of opportunities to provide new programs and services to the customers, like showing ways to save energy,” said Fisher. “It shows them more timely information as far as their usage.”

Currently, customers receive a bill from the previous month, so there is nothing they can do to immediately see the impact of usage changes on a water or electricity bill. With the new meters and an upcoming web portal, users will be able to see their usage from the previous day. 

“It gives me a lot more information. It gives me a better idea of how I’m using water and electricity and gives me more opportunities to conserve both,” said Fisher, who has the meter at his home. 

Commercial benefits

Businesses can benefit from the additional data provided by the new smart meters, including how specific processes affect their monthly usage. 

“We have quite a few businesses interested in their interval data, the short-term usage pattern,” said Fisher. “So they know what it does to their overall load if they turn on a particular piece of equipment.”

The new electric meters will provide next-day usage data to customers. (Photo: Brent Fuchs)

This granular data is one of the significant drivers for Edmond companies to adopt the program. Businesses can see how to adjust operations to reduce energy usage and control how electricity is used. 

“For manufacturing-centered customers, they have processes that may jump their demand up real high and can use that information so that they don’t have one big peak,” said Fisher. 

Beyond accurate and proactive usage readings, the meters can also monitor systems to notify Edmond Electric when service is disrupted. 

“Right now, we rely upon a customer to call us and say, ‘Hey, we have an outage,” said Fisher. “This will send us a notification so we can be more proactive and contact the customer, and when it’s restored, we will know that it is actually restored.”

Installation and expansion

Since City Council’s approval, the program faced delays due to the COVID pandemic, particularly with meter supply, but the installation launched in early August. 

Utility Partners of America is the contractor we’re using for meter installation services,” said Fisher. “They’re looking at a two- to four-week timeframe to get that letter out before they hit a particular area. So we’re trying to notify the customers in advance.”

Edmond Electric anticipates the full rollout will take 18 to 24 months. During that time, the utility company will also launch a web portal in fall 2022 for customers to get a closer look at their usage data pulled directly from the new smart meters. 

“When we install these meters, we are going to do a two-month overlap of manual reads,” said Fisher. “We want to make sure that those AMI readings are accurate, which we’ve been monitoring for a while now, but it’s just one final check.” 

Edmond Electric has plans beyond smart meter installation to improve customer experiences and options. Information like leak detection and voltage fluctuations could be sent via notification to customers, along with details about outages and opportunities to save money. 

“We also want to look at different programs. There’s potential for a programmable thermostat rebate program, working with customers to turn off pool pumps during peak times to save money, and more alarms and alerts for meters,” said Fisher. “This is just the first customer-facing piece.”

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About Tim Priebe

Tim is a public speaker, author, publisher of Edmond Business, and the owner of Backslash Creative. He helps businesses that are worried they don’t have the expertise or time required to invest in doing their own digital marketing. He helps them plan where and how much to invest and often helps execute the plan.

Tim started the Edmond Business online magazine in May 2020 to fill a need in the community when The Edmond Sun shut down and stopped publishing their monthly magazine, The Business Times.