Smart Meters Driving Conservation in Ontario
Several leading utility companies are providing customers with personalized reports about their electricity use in hopes of driving energy conservation.
Several thousand Ontario households will see more benefits from their smart meters this month as they begin receiving detailed reports of their household’s electricity usage.
Greater Sudbury Hydro, Northern Ontario Wires and PUC Distribution Inc. are in the midst of launching a new program to offer many of their customers more information on how they use electricity, how their usage compares to similar households in the community, plus personalized tips on ways they can save energy and money.
The program launch comes on the heels of an exceedingly successful energy conservation pilot run by Greater Sudbury Hydro and Canadian start-up Ecotagious Inc., which saw an average of over 3% energy savings among participants over the course of the winter, which persisted through spring. To put this into perspective, if all the utility companies in Ontario were to implement this program and achieve a similar result, Ontarians would save more than $50 million a year.
This is the first time an Ontario utility company has officially launched a program like this. When asked about the program, Paula Tarini, Conservation Supervisor at Greater Sudbury Hydro, remarked, “Until now, customers have never had access to such a detailed look at their household’s energy usage. Our customers are amongst the first to benefit from this type of information. We leave it up to them to decide what they will do with these insights –but based on the pilot, we assume many will be very receptive and will modify their consumption behavior as a result.”
To deliver the reports, the utility companies have partnered with Ecotagious Inc., a Canadian company that has spent years developing sophisticated algorithms which help identify how much electricity major appliances are using based only on smart meter data without the need for any additional hardware. Ecotagious then creates customized reports for each household and recommends programs and actions that can help customers save. “It’s amazing how much impact we can have simply by informing people of what they are doing, how they compare to similar households and pointing them in the right direction”, says Bruce Townson, Ecotagious CEO.
Utility companies in Ontario have been focused on driving conservation, as directed by the Ontario Ministry of Energy, and administered by the Ontario Power Authority (OPA). The OPA has been instrumental in providing both the incentive and the funding to run innovative programs like this that will help reduce both the environmental and financial impact of increased energy usage.
Townson added, “The pilot’s success really shows that consumers are motivated to conserve, but need solid information on which to base their usage choices. Even small changes can have huge impact.”
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