But that's slowly changing. An example of that is PPL's
pilot program that offers to install "smart" power meters
and alternative pricing methods to the traditional "average
monthly rate" to residential customers, something that has
been available for years to industrial clients.
"By signing up tens of millions of people like Brubaker to
change patterns of electric usage, the companies expect the
new power meters and time-based rates to help avoid
blackouts, curb greenhouse gas emissions and beat back the
immediate need to build expensive new power plants."
There are various levels of "real-time" pricing. Some work
with big chunks of the day (from noon to 7 PM, for example).
Others are really real-time, with fluctuations throughout
the day based on demand on the grid. "People who sign up for
such plans may receive signals, such as e-mails or cell
phone messages, to tell them prices are climbing
Last year, about 95 percent of the participants saved money
in Commonwealth Edison's open-enrollment residential
real-time pricing program, thought to be the nation's first.
The majority saved between 7 to 12 percent, the utility
Talk about a high success rate! And with the introduction of
smarter appliances and electronics that can be programmed to
react a certain way to certain rates, this should go higher.
Right now the meters and rates might be getting smarter, but
the savings still mostly depend on a person taking some
actions each time rates go up or down.
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