To jump start the modernization of our nation’s aging energy infrastructure, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act invested $4.5 billion in the electric sector —matched by private funding to reach a total of about $9.5 billion— so that Americans could start experiencing the benefits of the future grid sooner. Of the $4.5 billion, $3.4 billion was used to help industry accelerate the deployment of advanced technologies that are now keeping the lights on more reliably and efficiently and reducing costs. The large-scale deployment of smart meters and supporting technology through these projects is now enabling utilities to explore new consumer-facing programs and service offerings. Consumers, in turn, have many more choices about how they purchase electricity and manage their energy use. Prepaid utility service — which is an alternative payment option in which consumers buy a dollar amount of electricity, and utilities deduct energy usage from that balance as it is used — is one area where these changes converge.

The Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability’s report entitled “Bridging the Gaps on Prepaid Utility Service” examines utilities’ and consumers’ experiences with prepay. Some of the projects examined in the report were part of the Recovery Act-funded Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG) program. Under the SGIG program, DOE and the electricity industry jointly invested $8 billion in 99 cost-shared projects involving more than 200 electric utilities and other organizations. These projects modernized the electric grid, strengthened cybersecurity, improved interoperability, and collected an unprecedented level of performance data on smart grid operations and benefits. 

The complete “Bridging the Gaps on Prepaid Utility Service” report is available below for downloading.