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Kentucky Utilities introduces a new way to look at electric consumption up close

The new meter has a digital display and gives customers detailed information through a website about their electricity usage.
The new meter has a digital display and gives customers detailed information through a website about their electricity usage. palcala@herald-leader.com

The process to change out the meter takes about 90 seconds, and what the Kentucky Utilities customer ends up with is a super-meter of sorts that will allow them to monitor their electric usage in increments of as little as 15 minutes.

The advanced meter service, introduced at the end of January, is a voluntary free service available to residential and small commercial customers. The advanced meter gives customers detailed information they can use to understand electricity usage.

The service is limited to the first combined 5,000 LG&E and 5,000 KU residential electric and small commercial customers who sign up. Spokeswoman Liz Pratt said that so far about 1,700 customers have enrolled, about 700 of them KU customers.

The company is monitoring customer interest and participation rates and will later make a decision about the future of the service, she said.

“We’re continually exploring new tools and features to further enhance the service, and we’ll take participants’ feedback into consideration as we develop any future plans,” she added.

The advanced meter is not the same thing as KU’s demand conservation device which is attached to the central air conditioning or heat pumps and is used to briefly interrupt air conditioner cycles on peak summer days to reduce demand for electricity.

David Link, manager of research and development for Louisville Gas & Electric-KU, has had the advanced meter for three months. The system offers customers several options on how to use their detailed information, he said. They can profile their usage through the day, or fill out a detailed profile about electrical usage in their home that will generate some “high-level recommendations,” Link said.

Link hasn’t yet bought a programmable thermostat such as the Nest (which retails for $249), but manually re-sets his thermostat to save energy.

“I’ve come to realize looking at the data ... that I’m not as good at remembering as I thought I was,” Link said, adding that having hard energy-use habits data is better than relying on anecdotal information.

David Ward, KU’s national account manager in Lexington, is fascinated with the advanced meter system.

“The chart is very intuitive as you use it,” Ward said. “You can look at it in various time frames, and you can look at it in terms of an interval, which is 15 minutes.”

Watching how his home uses energy — how much energy is used during morning showers and evening cooking — allows him to calculate other energy-saving measures, such as adjusting thermostat temperature and using a programmable timer on his water heater.

“You may drive your home more efficiently when you have the data, the information, right in front of you,” he said.

KU and LG&E customers can find out more about the new service by going to Lge-ku.com.

Cheryl Truman: 859-231-3202, @CherylTruman

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