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New online service lets customers track power usage

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GREENFIELD — Ever get a shock from your electric bill?

Greenfield city officials hope surprise energy costs will be a thing of the past with a new online tool that helps customers gauge how much power they’re using by the hour.

Greenfield Power & Light launched My Energy Data earlier this month as a free service for all Greenfield Utility customers. Customers may register at www.greenfieldin.org.

“You know what the price of gas is; you know other commodities. We want you to know, we’ve converted energy into dollars,” said Nelson Castrodale, superintendent of Greenfield Power & Light.

The site has been available to a few select people for a couple of months. Castrodale said elected officials, city employees and department heads were invited to test out the website with their own accounts first, so bugs can be worked out.

About two weeks ago, the site was put on the city’s website for anyone to use. So far, about 90 customers have signed up. The utility is also spreading the word by mailing informational brochures with utility bills and hanging fliers on doorknobs.

The online tool features a daily chart, showing customers how much power they have used each hour of the day and tracking energy usage as recent as the day before. The site also features a monthly usage chart. Both charts carry a line that shows the outside temperature, so the customer can tell how much power they’ve used on the hottest or coldest days of the year.

“Every time you see that spike, you’ll say, ‘Well, what did I do that day?’” Councilman Greg Carwein said.

Carwein was invited to join the site a couple of months ago, and while he hasn’t used it extensively, he said it’s a good tool to compare energy usage month to month.

The site even features a color-coded light bulb on the home page. If it’s green, expect your bill to be lower this month than it was last month. If it’s yellow, the bill will cost about the same; if it’s red, expect a more expensive energy bill.

Email alerts can be set up to tell customers when they are exceeding a certain dollar figure.

Castrodale said the daily tracking capability allows customers to think about how much energy they’re using.

“You can say, ‘What am I doing? Am I leaving the TVs on? Am I leaving the lights on?’” Castrodale said. “Get in the habit of turning those things off, so you can see a savings.”

The online tool is part of a technology overhaul that’s been going for the last 18 months. In 2011, Greenfield Power & Light began installing new electricity meters to 9,000 customers to more accurately and instantaneously measure usage.

At a cost of $500,000 over the next few years, the technology upgrades will be paid with current and future utility funds. No rate increases were required for the upgrades.

Castrodale said he expects up to 30 percent of customers to log on to My Energy Data.

“It’s another way to save on energy, save on demand,” Castrodale said. “It helps customers save money; it helps the utility save money …. The more efficient we are, the better off we’re going to be.”

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