The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) has approved a petition (Docket No. P-2015-2506002) from Duquesne Light to implement a time-of-use rate trial program for 150,000 of its 588,000 customers in Allegheny and Beaver Counties during the year commencing June 1 and ending May 31, 2017.
Time-of-use pricing (TOU) typically applies different rates to customer usage when demand is high than when demand for power is lower. For example, on-peak usage rates would refer to four hours – 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. – on a hot summer weekday afternoon; whereas off-peak usage rates would refer to four hours on a winter night.
Such pricing “… give[s] customers an incentive to shift their demand to off-peak hours,” Krysia Kubiak, director of State Regulatory Strategy and Government Affairs for the utility, told the local Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
It is possible to track customer usage through the use of on-premises smart meters, which communicate back to the utility – and such meters now are required statewide under Pennsylvania Act 129, passed in 2008. Under that law, utilities in the Keystone State have been required to take energy efficiency and conservation measures; deploy smart meter technology; and test time-of-use rates, real-time pricing plans, default service procurement, alternative energy sources, and cost recovery.
In 2014, Philadelphia-based PECO completed its own TOU pilot program, in which 4,800 customers participated.
Duquesne Light already has started replacing all existing electric meters with new, digital models throughout its service territory. By the time of the trial this summer, 150,000 smart meters will have been installed and will be ready to support the program.
TOU program particulars
In its petition to the PSC, Duquesne Light proposes to test the “Summer TOU” timeframe, which comprises the on-peak period from June 1 September 30 of this year. During the Summer TOU period, a Pennsylvania electric generation supplier must maintain the same on-peak rate(s) it offers to customers throughout the term.
Starting October 1, and going through May 31, 2017, one off-peak rate will be charged for all hours, which is the non-summer TOU rate.
Duquesne Light proposes that the TOU program will only be available to residential customers who have a smart meter with data collection and communications systems installed and successfully tested.
No commercial customers are eligible to participate as the functionality for commercial and industrial customers to have data collection and communications systems will not be available until this May 31.
The utility said that it will provide more information on the TOU program closer to the launch on June 1. The program is voluntary, and any customer with a smart meter is eligible to sign up. The utility will evaluate the program and submit a report to the state Public Utility Commission by Nov. 30, said PUC spokesman Nils Hagen-Frederiksen.