DP&L seeks $867M in ‘smart meter’ upgrades

Dayton Power & Light filed papers in recent weeks outlining plans to modernize its electric power distribution grid, installing “smart” power usage meters.

The application filed with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) — the state body overseeing utilities in the state — seeks approval of what the company calls its “distribution modernization plan.”

If approved, the plan will mean an increase in customers bills of $1.99 a month for customers using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of power, according to an AES Corp. press release.

“Our customers will experience personalized, innovative & seamless energy services enabled by transformative technologies,” DP&L says in the PUCO application.

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The company proposes installing “advanced metering infrastructure,” sometimes called “smart” metering, that it says will eliminate the need for company employees to drive to and enter customer locations to read power meters.

The company also wants to build some 50 electric vehicle charging stations across its service territory.

The nominal overall cost for such a plan is put in the PUCO application at nearly $867 million, but DP&L says it can point to “benefits” over a 20-year period of more than $2.5 billion.

Nearly $567 million in capital investments are singled out as part of the costs.

Advanced metering will “implement demand response and time-of-use rates,” which will save customers money, DP&L said in the filing that was submitted late last month.

It will also speed the utility’s restoration response using data from the smart meters to provide new information to DP&L about power outages.

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The company also envisions investments that will also include “advanced distribution infrastructure (and) communications equipment.”

The company is also eyeing a new “computer information system” that it believes will allow more flexible rates and adaptation to future markets.

In a supporting document filed with PUCO, Thomas Tatham, DP&L director of strategic accounts and customers programs, outlined some of the benefits of the upgrade as “digitally-automated communication channels tailored to customer preferences” and improved reliability.

For example, during a power outage, with an upgraded distribution system, DP&L will be able to “quickly identify the location of the outage” and “confirm that a customer has lost service based on communications from the customer’s smart meter,” Tatham said in the filing.

“DP&L will be able to send real-time notifications through each affected customer’s preferred method of communication,” he added.

The case filings can be found on the PUCO web site here.

DP&L is a subsidiary of Arlington, Va.-based AES.

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