The Palo Alto, Calif., City Council authorized the city’s utility to carry out a pilot program testing time-of-use rates and advanced meters. Up to 300 Palo Alto residents will have the opportunity to participate in the new “Residential CustomerConnect and Time‐of‐Use Rate Pilot” program. The program “is an exciting step toward placing customers in the driver’s seat when it comes to controlling their utilities use and costs,” the city said.
The program will give participants next-day feedback about how much electricity, gas and water they are using each day on an hourly basis and how changes they make affect that use, the utility said. The time‐of‐use rates are designed to offer residents the chance to save money by shifting their electric consumption (such as charging electric vehicles) to late-night hours.
“We would like participating customers to provide feedback on their experience in using the information and analytical tools provided through this pilot program,” said Utilities Director Valerie Fong. “They will be playing a role in determining if, when and how to expand the program to all customers in the future.”
In addition to helping customers better manage their utility use and bills, the advanced meter technology has the potential to improve the utility’s service reliability and operational efficiency, Palo Alto said. The city has contracted with Elster Solutions LLC to provide the metering and monitoring equipment and associated web‐based analytical tools. There is no cost to the customer to participate in this pilot program. The money for the program itself is in the utility’s existing budget, so no rate adjustments are required, the city said. —ROBERT VARELA, Public Power Daily, December 13, 2012