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Snapping Shoals pilot program in 2012
A Snapping Shoals EMC meter - photo by Courtesy SSEMC

With many people pinching pennies and watching their bills, Snapping Shoals EMC is looking at a pilot program that might help save on utility costs.

Snapping Shoals aims to roll out a voluntary pilot program in 2012 that would compare how electricity usage with demand-side regulation, or the customer’s own monitoring and changing of their usage, versus direct control from Snapping Shoals.

The 18-month long program would have three components. One group of people would have devices installed on their air conditioning unit, water heater, and pool pump which would allow Snapping Shoals to turn on and off those devices at optimal times to help even out power demand fluctuations.

Another group would have a display monitor installed in the homes that would provide the resident with information about how much in dollars and cents, as well as kilowatt  hours, was being used in a daily basis.

Another group would have access to the same type of information but through portal such as the web instead of an in-home display.

“If we compare those two processes versus direct control, which one produces the most savings?” said Melvin Allen, Vice President of Engineering Services.

“What we would like to determine is, in the second two groups, if a customer knows their kilowatt hour consumption and what it costs them on a daily basis, would they become more efficient?”

Though it might not save the company any more money directly, it might allow customers to become more efficient, said Allen.

The company had initially received a grant to help run a study program on demand side management and distribution automation, but ended up putting most of the dollars into the distribution automation program.

The start date of the program has not been set yet, but Allen said Snapping Shoals does aim to start sometime in 2012.

Snapping Shoals is no stranger to experimenting with direct control. Another program, where load control devices were installed on appliances such as hot water heaters, was tried in the 1980s and 90s, but not continued. The need to control peak demand was not as great. “Eventually economics drove the decision to phase the program out in the early 90s,” Allen said.

During the January South Rockdale Civic Association Meeting, Allen pointed out that while all of Snapping Shoals’ power meters now have a communication device that communicates to through the power lines to the company about power usage, it does not have wireless meters. The meters are wired, he reiterated.

Snapping Shoals EMC provides electricity to about 92,000 meters in an eight-county area, including Rockdale, Henry, Newton, DeKalb, Butts, Walton, Jasper and Morgan counties. For more information, go to