March 31, 2010 By Russell Nichols
Photo: Tallahassee Mayor John Marks, right
Of all the smart electricity grids rolling out locally across the country, Tallahassee's forthcoming advanced metering system might be the smartest.
This fall, the city's public utility will launch a smart grid that encompasses electric, natural gas and water services -- the first of its kind in the country to combine all three utilities in one network. On a backbone of 220,000 smart meters, a communications infrastructure, data collection software and smart devices, the system will enable the city and customers to save money and manage their power use like never before.
The technology, for instance, will allow customers to control thermostats remotely, choose their ideal electricity price rates and compare energy use data. They can sign up for a monetary cap for their accounts or receive a text or e-mail alert when their usage level approaches a preset limit. They can also do activities like laundry at off-peak hours to get cheaper rates. The city's utilities staff will be able to remotely pinpoint electricity outages and water leaks for quicker repairs.
"Our focus has always been the customer," said Reese Goad, Tallahassee's director of utility business and customer service. "Having all three systems under one umbrella, we'll be able to tell them the total cost of utility services, and view in real time the amount of utility services they're using."
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