Bulletin Staff Report

More than 75 Brownwood area residents got a look at the future of electric service — and conservation — Wednesday when Oncor Electric Delivery brought its “Smart Texas” Experience Center to Brownwood.

“It was a very good event, and we were very, very pleased,” Oncor Area Manager Ken Harris said as the exhibit was packing up to go to Round Rock for a similar demonstration today. “The technology that’s coming is unbelievable.”

Harriss said Oncor and meter officials are expecting representatives of a number of other utility companies at the Round Rock event, a result of the interest the display has been generating.

“We’re hoping we’re out in front of this,” Harriss said.

At the heart of the exhibit, housed in an 1,100-square foot portable building, was a demonstration of new meters destined for homes in the Oncor service area. Designed to replace traditional electric meters, which have been in use since 1888 and remain largely unchanged, Oncor’s new Advanced Meter System will be rolling out across the state over the next four years. The exhibit is designed to help consumers learn more about the meters, and to gain a better knowledge of electricity usage and ways to cut consumption.

Visitors to the display set up on the Home Depot parking lot stopped at interactive kiosks and real-world demonstrations outlining the benefits of new technology. Displays showed ways to improve electric delivery and how consumers can understand how their use of power can affect their cost.

“With this education campaign, we believe that consumers in Oncor’s service area will better understand how to take advantage of the opportunities that the new advanced meters provide and will be able to reduce their demand — along with lowering their bills and helping the environment,” Bob Shapard, Oncor CEO, said.

Oncor’s Advanced Meter System (AMS) will allow retail electric providers to offer monitoring equipment to consumers to help them control energy usage, which were also on display. Technicians said the cost of the device could range from $50 to $200, and would let customers see how much electricity they are using as it is being used. It can also compute the cost of electricity as the month progresses.

Oncor said it plans to invest millions of dollars the next four years to deploy the latest advanced meter technology benefiting more than 7 million consumers in its service areas, transforming its electric distribution network into one of the most technologically advanced grids in the nation by 2012. It will also enhance opportunities for conservation, officials said.