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Baltimore Utility Rolling Out 2M Smart Meters, Could Save $2.6B

BGEthermostatUpdated: Like early adopter utilities in California, Texas and Florida, Maryland’s largest utility will soon be rolling out smart grid technology, right in Charm City. Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE), a subsidiary of Constellation Energy (s CEG), announced Monday that it plans to deploy 2 million smart meters for all of its customers. The rollout will cost an estimated $500 million over five years, but could save BGE’s customers $2.6 billion.

BGE has only filed its smart meter plan with the state regulator — the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) — but the utility asked the commission to move quickly on its proposal so that it can also apply for federal smart grid stimulus funds for the project. BGE hopes to get a $200 million grant from DOE stimulus funds, and will file for the funds by August (the deadline for proposals), hoping to receive them by October.

While the program will cost $500 million to deploy and will partly be paid for with rate hikes of up to $1.24 per month for electric customers and $1.52 for gas customers, BGE says savings will be higher than costs by a ratio of 3 to 1. That data comes from BGE’s pilot smart meter trials, which involved 3,000 homes between July and November of 2008. In those trials, BGE found that customers reduced their energy consumption by up to 37 percent during peak electricity periods, and saved $100 on their energy bills.

BGE tells us that it has not yet selected third-party vendors for its smart meter rollout or a larger smart grid initiative. But during BGE’s press conference on Monday (video via BizJournal), BGE’s senior vice president for Strategy and Regulatory Affairs, Marc Case, said that the smart meter program would include a wireless home area network, smart thermostats, displays and devices for energy management, smart appliances, and eventually a connection to smart charging of an electric vehicle. In BGE’s pilot, it tested a demand response program that uses smart thermostats and smart devices to turn down customers’ air conditioning units during peak periods.

During the press conference, Case also showed off a device that looked a lot like Ambient Device’s Orb (photo via BizJournal) but with BGE’s brand on it. (Ambient has supplied its Orb for PG&E (s PCG) and other utilities.) Ambient Devices wouldn’t comment on whether or not it was working with BGE and referred us to BGE. BGE said it will get back to us on a confirmation and more details. Update: Yep, BGE is piloting Ambient Device’s Orb.

6 Responses to “Baltimore Utility Rolling Out 2M Smart Meters, Could Save $2.6B”

  1. Way too bright for our power utility, here in NM. PNM exists essentially to crank out coal-powered electricity for Los Angeles.

    They did a token wind-power field – while Spanish and other firms roll in to export electricity, as well. Solar fields are planned – by other companies.

    I figure we’ll be next to last to get a Smart Grid. And we’ll never get a price reduction.