The amount of mine and my roommate’s energy bill is a hotly discussed topic amongst our group of friends. Mainly, the fact that ours is often double theirs. They attribute it to us (read: me) watching inordinate amounts of TV on my big screen, air conditioning an empty apartment, and leaving lights on all the time. Me? Never one for self-reflection, I think it’s just cuz Pepco gouges us.
Today, Washington, DC based Pepco Holdings announced that it will seek $142 Million in federal grants from the government under the American Recovery and Restabilization Act (ARRA). The utility company is seeking grants from the US Department of Energy “to help cover the cost of advanced metering infrastructure, distribution automation and direct load control equipment in its District of Columbia and Maryland service territories.
Of the total, $44 million would be targeted to the District and $98 million would be for Maryland. A $142 million grant, if awarded by DOE, would represent 50 percent of the total project spend, which is the maximum possible under the program,” according to a press release. Pepco Region President Thomas Graham points out that “Every dollar we obtain from the federal government offsets the cost customers would otherwise pay to make these important improvements to the system, which are designed to enable customers to better manage their energy use and costs, improve customer service and reliability and create a cleaner environment,” which sounds good to me, because I certainly don’t need to be spending any more money on my utility bill each month.
The idea behind the developments is to build an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), which is also commonly referred to as SmartGrid technology, to operate more efficiently – combining quicker knowledge transfer between utility and customer about outages, and also providing a way to garner more awareness about wasted usage to the customer so that they can change their behavior accordingly, thus lowering their bill and wasting less energy! Not a bad plan, if you ask me. One DC-area company, Arlington-based Positive Energy is making strides in this arena by running communication campaigns that target utility customers and give them “grades” each month on their utility bill that let them know how their usage shapes up to that of their neighbors. It’s an interesting concept, that whole “accountability” thing…perhaps I’ll adopt it one of these days…in the meantime, hopefully Pepco can build their AMI so that my utilities are administered more efficiently and the great behavior modification of Liam Darmody begins…