This tool is used along with the above measures to convey information to the customer about the prevailing demand, supply, prices on real time basis and the incentives and options that could be used through the customer to manage the demand. Further, there are other methods like e-mail, cell phone, pagers and fax, etc., that can be used as a communication tool to convey the needed information and data. Two-way communication permits utilities to determine the effects of load management at the premise and end-use levels. Utilities could offer load control services which involves a customer override option, along with billing dependent upon whether the option was exercised.
Communication and information management systems could be used to provide customers along with an array of energy information services, involving:
1 Continuously updated break-ups of monthly energy use through major appliances or end uses and variable pricing category;
2 Comparisons of energy use through appliances or end uses in the current and prior periods;
3 Projections of the monthly electricity bill based on partial month data;
4 Comparisons of energy use to classic neighbourhood profiles; and
5 DSM recommendations, involving estimates of energy cost impacts of potential efficiency improvements.
Advantages from automated meter reading, remote connect/disconnect services, electronic billing, theft or tampering detection, automated bill payment, distribution automation, and non-energy services might also contribute to the cost-effectiveness of energy-related two-way communication systems.
In a few cases, energy information services might be provided as part of a wide band communication network which also makes available cable TV, telephone, internet, security system, video-on-demand, medical alert, and other telecommunications services. But, a choice of communication technologies, involving use of existing telephone lines, wireless, and hybrid fibre optic/coaxial cable systems, will allow energy information services to develop at a pace which is independent of the construction of wide band telecommunication networks.