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Published November 26, 2012, 09:57 PM

New “smart energy technology” helping customers track costs

Pelican Rapids, MN (WDAY TV) - We've all sat down with our monthly electric bill and questioned the numbers in front of us, but now something called "smart energy technology" is helping power companies and its customers track monthly, daily, and hourly usage in the home.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY Staff Reports, WDAY

Pelican Rapids, MN (WDAY TV) - We've all sat down with our monthly electric bill and questioned the numbers in front of us, but now something called "smart energy technology" is helping power companies and its customers track monthly, daily, and hourly usage in the home.

Minnesota is leading the pack when it comes to customers reducing their electric bills by using their home computer.

You don't see electricity. You don't feel it like you do pumping gas in the car.

Lake Region Electric out of Pelican Rapids, is one of 18 utilities across Minnesota offering the My Meter program to the co-op members.

Dan Husted, Lake Region Electric: “Here is Thanksgiving at this member's home, in the middle of the day.”

Dan Husted says customers are able to log on a secure site to monitor their usage. Not just by the day, but by the hour.

Husted: “You get a real awareness of how you use electricity. Their consumption, with energy costs going up, sometimes the best thing is to reduce usage.”

Vicki Satter lives in rural Pelican Rapids. She can log on day or night to see what trends she is seeing with her power usage.

Vicki Satter, Lake Region Member: “This is daily usage and this for example was yesterday, we were doing a lot of laundry.”

The “my meter program” is proving to popular with seasonal members, those people who have lake homes in the area, who hundreds of miles away can check and make sure a refrigerator or space heater wasn't left on for the winter.

3000 customers use this on regular basis.

The customer's meter sends data constantly through the power line to a substation, then to the power company's computers. Because of this on line program, some customers have ditched their power sucking space heaters or refrigerators.

Husted: “The beer and bait refrigerator in the garage can be a big user.”

Otter Tail Power and Xcel Energy in Minnesota also use smart energy technology programs.

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