Centerpoint Reaches Millionth-Customer Smart Meter Milestone

Centerpoint Energy has installed its one millionth smart meter less than two years after beginning the program. As Ed Mayberry reports, the system is designed to give consumers more control over energy consumption, but also feed information that could improve electric reliability.

CenterPoint Energy, according to Senior Vice President Kenny Mercado, has reached a milestone with this millionth installation.

"I was talking to an employee friend of mine yesterday, and he said 'you know, it took us a hundred years to install our first million meters. We did another million meters in less than two years'."

These meters allow use of an in-home device that provides up-to-the-minute usage information. Ruth Diorio installed a smart meter last November.

"When we first got it, the family went around, turned off everything, and we started turning on and off lights. We were surprised to learn several things: one, the night light in the bath cost as much as a bedside lamp. The fans that we run, they weren't registering. It gave us a good indication of what was pulling energy in the home and what wasn't, by the time we were done. It made me a conscientious consumer."

Centerpoint received $200 million in smart grid investment grants from the federal stimulus program. Chris Irwin with the Department of Energy says the grants are to create jobs and modernize the electrical infrastructure.

"They took their existing plans and they said 'we're going to move these plans faster.' They decided to leap forward onto their intelligent grid side of the business. Not just the customer-touching portions of the grid, but the circulatory system of the grid, and make it heal faster when a hurricane blows through Houston."

By next year, there will be 2.2 million smart meters in the greater Houston area. And by the summer of 2013, the first phase of the intelligent grid will be complete, providing feedback to help restore power more efficiently during outages.

Bio photo of Ed Mayberry

Ed Mayberry

Local Anchor, All Things Considered

Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with many of those years spent on the rock 'n' roll disc jockey side of the business...