The first state in US history mandates every home to have Sense

Rhode Island, as one of the original 13 states that formed the United States, continues to lead in the forefront of change, this time in the clean energy transition.

In autumn 2023, the Public Utilities Commission of the State of Rhode Island unanimously voted to approve utilities to provide Sense, on next generation smart meters, to every home in Rhode Island. The policy goal is to integrate Sense energy intelligence, aiming to accelerate the significant impact of household participation in reducing energy consumption. The decision aligns with the approval of the Rhode Island Energy’s Advanced Metering Functionality (“AMF”) Business Case.

In doing so, Rhode Island has secured its position in energy transition history, by establishing regulations that support flexibility while also maintaining accountability. This ensures that both customers and electric utilities have access to new tools and resources for managing energy consumption through innovative approaches, driving new opportunities for consumer participation and engagement in the clean energy future.

So what makes Rhode Island’s deployment unique?

The Public Utilities Commission in Rhode Island is the first government body worldwide to mandate and approve utilities to deploy Sense to all homes in their state.

It’s rare in regulatory proceedings for all intervening parties to unanimously agree on specifying an energy technology, such as Sense, for every home, especially, within the broader approvals aimed at upgrading the specification of next generation smart metering deployed by the utilities across the state of Rhode Island.

Perhaps driving this consensus is a common interest in achieving the clean energy goals. As a result, there’s increased electrification of homes and vehicles, leading to higher demand on the grid. Additionally, the electric grid will need to support smaller and localised resources from behind-the-meter renewable systems installed in homes and businesses. Sense, running on next generation smart meters, is an essential technology to connect the home and the grid, supporting clean energy transition goals.

Now, with the Commission’s decision to mandate Sense for every home, the State of Rhode Island is enabling utilities to engage consumers as a resource, to unlock new energy transition use cases. These include real-time device level consumer updates, instant participation in demand response events that produce grid-scale load shifts during peak overconsumption periods and over generation.

What’s the difference between next generation smart meters that run Sense, and legacy smart meters used in the past?

To fully support the Sense use cases outlined by Rhode Island Energy, meters need continuous sampling of high-resolution energy data, significant local processing, and real time networking.

In contrast, legacy smart meters and legacy AMI networks were designed specifically to automatically collect periodic data for billing and network balancing purposes. These systems were engineered to transmit 15-minute interval data to the back end systems using a high latency, low bandwidth private radio AMI network. Legacy smart meters lacked connectivity to widespread home broadband networks and lacked high resolution real time data. Consequently, no device level consumption data was available to consumers meaning they were unable to participate in energy efficiency and demand side response initiatives effectively – until now.

The benefits of next generation smart meters embedded with Sense include both affordability and flexibility. Sense can be provided to consumers at no cost (vs. hundreds of dollars to install an energy monitoring system in a panel or thousands of dollars for a smart panel). This accessibility, means that even low- and moderate-income customers can access real-time usage insights, for easier home energy management, energy efficiency recommendations and demand flexibility programmes.

Excerpt from the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission public filing 27 August 2023:

c) The scope shall also include advancement of load disaggregation & Waveform Analytics and Grid Edge Computing that will be enabled by allowing customers to use Sense by connecting their home area network to the meter as discussed in RR-11 and shall not include acceleration of TVR.

Want to read more? Here is the public document: Read Now

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