- A study of anonymous data from 300,000 smart meters installed by Commonwealth Edison in its Illinois service territory shows 97% of customers would have saved money had they participated in a real-time pricing program — without even changing their usage patterns.
- The study, completed by Environmental Defense Fund and the Citizens Utility Board, found the average ComEd customer would have paid 13.2% less than they did with a traditional flat-rate. That would have trimmed annual bills by an average of $86.83 annually.
- The study also notes that even greater savings could have been achieved had customers theoretically changed their energy consumption through voluntary adjustments in response to pricing. The top 5% of customers saving money would have cut bills by 31%, or about $104 annually.
"The Costs and Benefits of Real-Time Pricing" shows the potential impacts of giving customers more information, control and pricing signals, but the secondary story is the Illinois rules that enabled the findings.
CUB and EDF explained that policy developments in Illinois "made the study possible." In 2011, state lawmakers passed legislation allowing ComEd and Ameren Illinois to install advanced electric meters in more than 4 million homes. And this year, the Illinois Commerce Commission approved the release of aggregate energy-use data on a large scale.
That anonymized data is broken out in half-hour increments, 24 hours a day.
“Modern sensors, controls, and meters are producing enormous amounts of data, which can revolutionize electricity markets and play a huge role in lowering pollution from the power grid,” Dick Munson, Midwest director of clean energy for EDF, said in a statement.
But he added that the group was "surprised to find real-time pricing would have saved nearly all of ComEd’s customers money, even without them doing a thing differently. There’s a big opportunity to design better pricing structures."
Real-time pricing aims to give customers accurate signals regarding supply and demand and the difficulty in providing electricity during peak times. The new white paper points to a conclusion by the consulting firm The Brattle Group that found a 5% reduction in peak demand in the United States "could lower consumer energy costs by at least $3 billion a year.”
Peak-load reductions also offer environmental benefits, the report noted, "most obviously in the form of reduced emissions from fossil-fueled peaker plants."