OGE Energy Corp.'s (OGE) electric utility unit announced two agreements to roll out a smart grid program, for which the company is eligible for about $130 million in U.S. stimulus program funding.
Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co., which serves customers in Oklahoma and western Arkansas, said it has reached agreements with its smart-grid program partners. If approved by state regulators, OG&E will be authorized to spend up to $366.4 million to deploy smart-grid technology through 2012.
It also reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy to finalize the process for receiving the grant. OG&E was selected in October for the government funding, which is expected to cover about a third of the smart-grid program's costs.
The company estimates that if approved, the program will add $1.57 a month, on average, to residential electric bills.
OGE Energy Chairman and Chief Executive Pete Delaney said the company expects the smart-grid program will allow the regulated utility to defer the need to expand net generating capacity until after 2020 and lower OG&E's operating costs.
The company recently completed installing more than 42,000 smart meters in Norman, Okla.
A smart meter measures a household's electricity usage in short increments. A wireless link sends the usage data to the utility in near real time and tells the customer the current price being charged for that power, which could be an incentive to turn off some lights or appliances.
OGE Energy last month reported sharply higher first-quarter earnings, with its electric utility being aided by higher rates and colder than usual weather while its natural gas business benefited from higher prices for natural-gas liquids and higher gathering and processing volume.
Shares closed Friday at $36.44 and were inactive premarket. Markets were closed Monday for Memorial Day.
-By Tess Stynes, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2481; Tess.Stynes@dowjones.com