AEI Provides Energy Profile, Data

Escalating energy costs and governmental interest is causing technical and managerial confusion, and some consternation among executives as they attempt to understand their energy consumption usage and make the best business decisions based on that knowledge.
Estimates suggest that power quality and reliability problems cost U.S. business $150 billion annually in lost data, materials and productivity. Reports suggest businesses worldwide have spent more than $11 billion on power quality and reliability products.
Oklahoma City-based Automated Energy Inc. targets these problems, offering a set of financial and technical skills missing from most companies today. AEI collects metered load data for facilities, views load profiles, compares costs from rate and price offers and calculates bill estimates.
Demand-response technology companies like AEI help utilities to avoid blackouts by paying customers to use less power when the electric grid is strained. Interest in the technologies is growing.
The privately held company has seen revenues grow 18 percent to 20 percent in the last three years. AEI has customers in a wide range of market sizes in every state in the U.S. and in Canada.
Whether it’s real-time metering, real-time monitoring and control, hourly pricing curtailment, risk management, asset aggregation, verification or creating new revenue streams, Automated Energy ensures business success by leveraging technology to provide a critical information link to make educated and timely decisions, said Cody Graves, founder and president.
Graves is a former chairman of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission and served as a member of commission from August 1991 until June 1997. Since leaving the commission, Graves has focused on the restructuring of the natural gas and electric utility industries.
One thing he learned from his years as a regulator at the OCC was that it was cheaper to invest in efficiency programs “than to invest in power plants,” Graves said.
“We have to do something as we are adding more people to the grid,” he said. “The Oklahoma market is already an attractive one. We should seek to make it cheaper and more efficient because the longer we can sustain a downturn in the economy like we are having now, the better chance we will survive.”
At first, “smart metering” meant automated meter reading. Today, smart metering, using a phone line to “talk” to the meter, enables connecting and controlling devices of all kinds. Once devices are communicating with each other, demand response companies are better able to manage them and achieve greater efficiencies.
Utility’s customers demand greater access to their energy information. The challenge is to offer energy information service that allows customers a way to manage their energy demand.
Automated Energy works with utilities across the country, offering their service through the utility, AEI works directly with the end user, helping them get their hands around energy consumption. The service ‘calls up’ customer electric meters via a phone line and downloads readings every 15 minutes to an hour, depending on how frequently customers want the data. AEI plans to offer this service to all of OG&E’s large commercial and industrial customers.
“Companies look at their electric bill and all they see are numbers,” Graves said. “What we help them see is what happens when consumption occurs; When they fire up all their air conditioning, what is it really costing them?”
AEI collects data daily. That data, which in the past was used internally for billing, helps utilities go to the customer and helps the customer better manage their energy consumption.
For example, AEI works with the City of Tulsa water department to track electric usage on its pumping stations.
“If they have two motors and turn both on at the same time, there is a huge surge in demand,” Graves said. “That could $2,000 in demand charges for a large industrial user.”
Getting information to the client allows them to make better informed decisions, Graves said. Showing a client when there is maximum stress on the system — which costs large industrial users up to half their bill — is valuable.
“We help people make better informed decisions.”
The utility benefits by having a platform from which to better serve its customers and get better access to data and analytical tools for their staff, Graves said.
“The end user benefits from wiser use of energy resources, in order to control cost and risk,” he said.
AEI went into business in 2000 and landed OG&E as its first customer.



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