IPL’s Smart Energy Project uses advanced technologies to improve customer satisfaction and operational efficiency. Partially funded through a $20 million U.S. Department of Energy Smart Grid Investment Grant , the project includes advanced meters, two-way communications equipment, enhanced online tools for energy management, support for electric vehicles and automated distribution operations capability. IPL continues to use advanced technology as part of its normal course of business.
Advanced Meters/Two-Way Communications
IPL has used automated meter reading (AMR) to remotely read meters (one-way communication) since 2001 to optimize outage prediction, improve service restoration and assist personnel in analyzing real-time customer billing concerns. Recently, IPL added nearly 30,000 smart meters to allow for two-way communication. Called Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), this new technology enables:
- more detailed meter reading,
- integration of pricing information sent to the meter for future time-based rates,
- the ability to remotely connect and disconnect electricity, and
- integration of AMR and AMI systems with a Meter Data Management System (MDMS) and IPL’s billing system to provide usage data in 15-minute intervals.
Energy Management Online Tools
As part of this project, website functionality was developed to educate customers about energy use and help them quickly access energy-saving programs and online tools that we call Power ToolsSM. One such tool is PowerView®, which enables customers to see their usage data on a one-day delay and use this information to manage their energy costs. Customers who have the new smart meters can see their information in 15-minute intervals. In addition, an online personalized dashboard was created so that customers can quickly see which Power ToolsSM programs they are already using, enroll in additional programs and decide their next steps toward saving energy.
Electric Vehicle (EV) Project
IPL initiated an electric vehicle program to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support customers who own these vehicles. IPL is the first Indiana utility to offer special EV rates (EVX and EVP), including time-of-use-based options for home or fleet charging, and a flat fee of $2.50 for public charging sessions. Charging stations have been deployed in approximately 140 homes, businesses and public areas. IPL is analyzing usage data from these stations to determine the impact of electric vehicles on the distribution system. More information
Automated Distribution Operations
The new software systems and two-way communication devices enable IPL to remotely monitor and control distribution system equipment. This allows IPL to predict the location of service interruptions, isolate issues from the office and proactively switch circuit feeds to avoid outages or minimize restoration times. IPL has upgraded or added nearly 2,400 devices, including relays, load tap changer controls, capacitor controls, transformer monitors, reclosers, fault indicators and substation monitoring equipment. These devices are constantly monitored to detect irregularities before problems occur. This enhanced system reduces the number of crews needed to perform certain field operations, improves system reliability and decreases service restoration times.