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Norcross First to Adopt ‘Smart Grid’

The system, which includes digital meters, will be the first of its kind in Georgia.

The Norcross City Council voted 5-0 on Monday in favor of adopting a "" that would include digital readers in homes and businesses. 

The grid is described as an “energy internet” that provides real-time info to the power company remotely, hopefully allowing for quicker, smarter fixes and more efficiency. It also gives consumers more access to their energy information.

“The City of Norcross is proud to take this first step towards providing citizens more efficient, reliable and sustainable electricity,” said Mayor Bucky Johnson in a release. “Digital technology, like smart phones and i-Pads, is driving energy demands and the need to provide better energy management tools.”

Beginning in May of next year, consumers will be charged an extra dollar per month to cover the service. Commercial accounts will be charged an extra $3.35 per month. “This program is being paid for out of the City’s electric fund and will not cause an increase in the City’s tax base,” according to a released Q&A on the subject. 

The new system tracks consumers remotely on the digital devices, so it could mean fewer employees on the ground reading meters. And the Smart Grid could lead to faster response times in the case of an outage since instead of waiting for a consumer to call in a problem, the power company can drill down on the location immediately. 

Consumers will also have access to volumes of information about their energy usage via a web portal, helping them track their consumption and bills--and potentially save money.

The Smart Grid is a partnership with Electric Cities of Georgia and GE, with ECG hosting the service and GE providing the technology. The service will be available to the other municipalities that are a part of Electric Cities of Georgia, though Norcross will be the first adopter.

The solution does not have any up-front costs but would be provided for a monthly fee, according to the contract. The City would not have to invest in the actual technology or hire any additional staff, according to an earlier memo from Public Works and Utility Director Craig Mims in support of the grid. 

The original motion before Council at Monday’s meeting included some cost estimates. “City of Norcross to provide Smart Grid as a Service at a monthly cost not to exceed $30,180 year one for implementation off set by a monthly benefit of $19,118. Year two costs not to exceed $26,700 offset by a monthly benefit of $19,118,” the original motion stated. (The adopted motion did not include these hard numbers.) 

The city will begin phasing in the new grid at the beginning of 2012, though consumers will see the first benefits at the end of 2012.

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