What is the Smarter Electricity Pilot Project?
Dubuque’s Smarter Electricity Pilot Project is a partnership between the City of Dubuque, Alliant Energy - Interstate Power and Light (IPL) Company, and IBM Research. The project is partially funded by a grant from the Iowa Office of Energy Independence. Alliant Energy has installed new AMI (advanced metering infrastructure) electric meters at nearly 1,000 volunteer Dubuque households and is providing the electricity usage data from those households to the City and IBM for analysis. The goal is to allow volunteer participants to better monitor their electric energy consumption and enable them to make more-informed choices about when to use energy, and how much they are using.
Smarter Electricity

What is AMI?

Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) technology remotely collects energy usage information at frequent intervals from customers’ AMI-enabled meters via a radio frequency (RF) fixed network.

When will pilot study participants see their usage data?
Pilot study participants will have access to a secure portal/website beginning in 2011. The portal is being developed by IBM and will be available for participants to test and view information about their electric usage for their household. 
New meter 

Who was eligible for this pilot study?
Approximately 5,500 Dubuque households are eligible in the project area. The areas selected provide the most consistent and best transmission for the collection of readings, as well as the largest collection of residential properties which are the focus of this phase of the study. View a map of the study area here.

Can I participate in the pilot study?
Recruitment for the pilot study ended in early July 2010. However, in an effort to help all residents benefit from the pilot study, the City of Dubuque will publicize the study findings as they become available.

Will I save money?
Participation in the Smarter Electricity Pilot Study does not guarantee cost savings. However, by being more aware and knowledgeable about their electricity consumption and establishing goals for usage, participants may identify ways to reduce their usage and costs.

How long will this pilot study run?
The City of Dubuque and IBM plan to complete the pilot study by late 2011.

What type of information is being transmitted?
Only meter numbers, energy usage readings, and diagnostic information are transmitted through encrypted secure signals. Personal data will not be transmitted so participant’s information will remain private and secure.

Is the usage data secure?
Yes. No identifiable information on the participating households is contained in the data stream and all data is maintained in anonyomized format. All data is stored on servers residing behind a firewall and the probability of external intrusion for this application is extremely low compared to other technologies. A network technology and system are in place to make this as secure as possible. All security meets or exceeds requirements for storage and transmission of energy data.

Who should pilot study participants contact with questions?
For general information on this and other Smarter Sustainable Dubuque pilot projects, including how and when to find usage information, contact the City of Dubuque at 563-690-6111 or visit www.cityofdubuque.org/ssd. For electric utility billing, service issues and questions, contact Alliant Energy at 1-800-ALLIANT (255-4268) or visit www.alliantenergy.com.

How will this impact participants’ electricity service?
There will be very little or no impact. Alliant will continue to read electric meters and bill customers on the same schedule as before their meter change out. The only difference will be the eventual availability of participants’ electric usage data through an online portal. The City of Dubuque and IBM are currently developing that portal and plan to complete it in 2011. Alliant Energy is not involved in this effort.

Why did Alliant install an AMI meter, yet continue manual meter reads?
Only 1,000 electric meters in Dubuque will be AMI meters, compared to a half-million electric meters across the entire IPL territory. Because this is such a small group, it’s not cost-effective to connect the meters to Alliant’s billing system at this time. In addition, it could prove more time consuming for Alliant meter readers to have to determine which meters to read and which meters were being read electronically. So, all meters will be read by meter readers for the foreseeable future.

Can participants read their new meter?
The new meters have a digital display that rotates, but will show the current meter reading as part of that rotation. There are no longer dials that need to be read.

What is ‘Smarter’ Sustainable Dubuque? 
Smarter Sustainable Dubuque is a unique public/private partnership between the City of Dubuque and IBM Research, the division of IBM responsible for its Smarter Planet campaign. It is a combination of the Sustainable Dubuque Project initiated by the City and IBM’s Smarter Planet/Smarter Cities initiative that features a research focus. It is integrating the values of Sustainable Dubuque and the technology of IBM’s Smarter Planet/Smarter Cities to create a new level of integration. 
Smarter Sustainable Dubuque
Smarter Sustainable Dubuque is an element of the Sustainable Dubuque initiative and seeks to give Dubuque residents the information and tools they need to make smarter choices related to resource consumption. The initiative is engaging Dubuque residents and businesses who, through advanced technology, will be able to voluntarily better manage their use of resources like water, electricity, oil, and natural gas. The focus is to develop decision-support tools for individuals and businesses to help them reduce their costs and environmental impact. Individual wellness is also being considered as a component.

Does Alliant Energy plan to implement AMI meters in other areas?
No. There is no current plan to implement AMI meters in the rest of Dubuque or other parts of Alliant’s Iowa territory.

Is the Smarter Electricity Pilot Study related to the Smarter Water Pilot Study?
Yes, the electricity pilot study and water pilot study are part of the Smarter Sustainable Dubuque project. Dubuque and IBM launched a Smarter Water Pilot Study in the spring of 2010 to coincide with the city-wide water meter replacement project. There are more than 300 households participating in the water pilot study and some of those households are also in the electricity study. Alliant Energy is not involved in the water pilot study.