Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division was founded in 1939, four years after Electric Power Board (EPB) in Chattanooga. Conventional wisdom suggests that the youngest and largest of the two would also be the most advanced of the two. Well, conventional wisdom is wrong. When it comes to Smart Grid, EPB is far ahead. EPB, which serves 169,000, started reviewing a plan for a smart grid back in 2004, put out a request for bids in 2008 and deployed its first electric smart meters in 2009.
To date, EPB has deployed 174,000 electric smart meters; that represented $34 million of a much larger $220 million project that encompassed a lot more than just smart meters. Indeed, the entire project upgraded all of EPB’s systems and completed a fiber optic network that transformed EPB into a model utility of the future.
EPB estimates that it has reduced customer outage time by 45 percent. The meter data—received in 15 minute intervals—enables EPB’s customer service representatives to give customers precise data when they call.
Furthermore, EPB has enhanced its ability to diagnose an electrical issue well before a truck rolls onsite, which has improved estimated restoration times.
For EPB, the smart meter deployment is 99 percent complete – and only 680 customers, or less than one percent, opted out.
MLGW has 1,000 smart meters operating in its system and serves 420,000 customers in Shelby County.