Glendale Water & Power on Thursday initiated a full-scale roll-out of a $70-million modernization project, installing the first wave of 120,000 electric and water smart meters throughout the city after two small-scale test runs.
The smart meters are designed to enhance efficiency by digitally transmitting data to the utility — eventually allowing customers to monitor energy consumption in real time.
"They will be able to go online in the next few months and see their usage on an hourly basis and a weekly basis," said Craig Kuennen, marketing manager at Glendale Water & Power.
Installation of the meters is expected to be completed by summer, Kuennen said.
During the coming months, customers will receive a letter and a postcard in the mail notifying them of their specific installation date. They can also contact the utility to schedule the installation. There is no cost to customers.
The roll-out on Thursday followed two dry runs, during which the utility installed and monitored about 1,700 of the meters.
"We had hoped to go out and put more out sooner, but we wanted to make sure we had all the bugs out," Kuennen said. "We have done that."
The new meters are the most visible component of Glendale Water & Power's smart-grid project, a $70-million undertaking that will transform the utility from a largely manual operation to a digital one, said General Manager Glenn Steiger.
The modernization is being financed in part by a $20-million stimulus grant from the Department of Energy.
Each meter will eventually include a digital display, helping customers to conserve energy and water — and to save money — by providing real-time data, Steiger said.
"They can decide when they want to use energy, what applications in the home or business they want to utilize and when," he said.
The smart grid will also allow Glendale Water & Power to better serve customers since any interruption in electricity or water service will instantly register with the utility, Steiger said. The system can then isolate the problem and redirect the flow of electricity or water until repairs are made.
Glendale Water & Power is already one of the top-performing utilities in the state in terms of renewable energy, officials said, providing about 23% of its power requirements from renewable resources. The smart grid should further elevate its status as a model system, Kuennen said.
"It is pretty powerful stuff," he said. "We expect more and more consumer products and programs to be developed as more and more utilities put in these systems. We are pretty excited."