Consumers Energy’s Smart Energy program will allow for an enhanced and exciting level of communication between our company and our customers.
One element of the program is the upgrade of meter technology to “smart” meters. Installations for residential customers began in late 2012 and commercial and industrial customer smart meter upgrades will begin during the fall of 2014. The meter technology upgrade for 1.8 million electric customers and 600,000 natural gas service customers within our electric service territory will continue through 2017.
Smart meters are similar to existing electric meters, but have a two-way communication module that utilizes the cellular telephone network to send secure, encrypted messages about energy usage. For customers who have already had their meters upgraded, the Smart Energy Program already provides enhanced billing accuracy through the virtual elimination of estimated bills and a web portal where customers can monitor their hourly electric usage. In the future, customers will also have the ability to sign up for money saving programs.
Another smart meter benefit comes from electronic outage notifications, an improvement over the current system that relies on customer calls. Electronic outage notifications will help Consumers Energy to utilize outage restoration resources more efficiently and respond to outages quicker. Enhanced monitoring of the Company’s electric distribution system will also be a benefit of the Smart Energy Program.
Updated April 2014