To complete the AMS/IG initiative, CenterPoint Energy has contracted with national companies such as General Electric, Itron, eMeter, IBM and Quanta, which has led to direct and indirect jobs in support of the program.
Jeff Myerson, CenterPoint Energy’s director of smart grid integration, says that in the second quarter of 2010, the AMS/IG initiative was supporting 588 jobs, half of which would not have existed had the company not received money from the Recovery Act.
“The majority of the employees working on this initiative are employed in construction and electrical trades. They are installing meters and other physical devices throughout the grid,” says Myerson.
He continues, “We’ve also hired a number of engineers and computer scientists to oversee the installation of the accompanying equipment and software that is needed to support the smart meters and automated distribution equipment.”
More information equals smarter consumers
Mercado says that once completed, the AMS initiative will provide timely electric usage information to residents and enhance grid reliability.
“Once their smart meter is installed, consumers are able to access the Smart Meter Texas Portal online to obtain updates on their daily energy use and calculate how much they are spending on electricity,” says Mercado.
A future of increased reliability
Houston sits in what is commonly referred to as “Hurricane Alley” and each year the city is in danger of having a hurricane disrupt energy distribution. When Hurricane Ike struck the city in 2008, nearly 99 percent of residents lost power.
Mercado says the smart meters and automated grid distribution equipment can reduce the number of customers affected by power outages by pinpointing the exact source of the outage and automatically rerouting power to minimize the number of affected customers.
“In the past, we would have had to send technicians out to manually reroute power in emergencies. Now we’ll be able to do it automatically,” he notes.
Providing consumers with better service and more control is a starting point for the AMS/IG initiative.
“In the near future, consumers will be able to install smart appliances in their homes that can communicate with the smart meters to maximize energy efficiency and promote smarter consumption patterns,” says Mercado.