Smart Meter Upgrades and Market Opportunities

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Electric Meter Upgraded To Smart MetersAs a time-limited $19.5 billion market opportunity, meter and communications suppliers with be working with utilities around the world on replacing typical home and business electric meters with Smart Meters. Be prepared for empowered decision making around your business’s energy usage and energy costs.

by Jeremy Gross, Green Economy Post

When was the last time your business upgraded the accounting software, the office’s lighting, or your marketing campaign? Recently, right? Well, how about the electric meter?

If your building is like most, the electric meter hasn’t been touched since its initial installation. The typical meter replacement cycle reaches a range of 15 to 20 years.  Well, get ready because a handful of environmental, economical, governmental, and technological trends will soon bring your electric meter into the 21st century as a Smart Meter.

As a component of the Smart Grid [Smart Grid 101], Smart Meters and initiatives like Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) are integrating two-way communications with energy measurement. These new meters will help provide customers with detailed consumption breakdowns and communicate information back to the utility for monitoring and billing.  They will help match consumption with generation, and promise major energy savings by changing how and when we use electricity.  Along with the Smart Grid, businesses will be empowered with automation and pricing knowledge.  For example, with real-time knowledge of what it costs to keep summertime office temperature at a cool 72 degrees, I might raise it a few notches and open the windows if costs are reduced significantly.  (Or you might have more casual days and promote “cooler” clothing!) I would be able to immediately see the lower energy usage and cost in real-time.  Now that’s motivation to make educated decisions around energy usage which immediately impacts the triple bottom line.

According to a new report from Pike Research [Report Link], major utilities worldwide, incentivized by savings and interested governments, are working to replace over 45% of North American and European electric meters by 2015.  This represents a time-limited opportunity for meter and communications suppliers as a projected $19.5 billion of smart meters are deployed worldwide between 2010 and 2015.

Pike Research divides the Smart Meter market into two groups: basic meters and advanced meters.  Basic meters transmit energy usage data over two-way communications networks. Advanced meters include basic functionality in addition to capabilities like remote connect/disconnect and home area networking (HAN).

Advanced metering will play an important role in enabling many new smart grid technologies and products.  As home area networking merges with these meters, Bob Gohn, Pike Research Senior Analyst, says that smart thermostats, energy information displays, smart appliances, and other key tools for energy management will become widely adopted.

The concept of home area networking can also apply to businesses. For example, in the future you may use a cell phone or computer to connect remotely to the office’s digital appliances and devices.  You may manage your security system, control heating, cooling and lighting, and other energy users.

Additional Facts and Figures

Here are some Smart Meter projections according to Pike Research’s report:

  • The worldwide smart meter market will experience an aggressive 19% CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) through 2015.
  • Total smart meter shipments will reach 39.5 million units by 2015, representing a $3.9 billion global market.
  • More than 250 million smart meters will be installed worldwide by 2015, representing a penetration rate of 18% of all electrical meters by that time, up from 46 million in 2008.
  • North America will become the leading market in 2010, reaching 55% penetration of all electric meters by 2015, passing over Europe, the current leader in smart meter adoption.
  • HAN capabilities will be included in 49% of all smart meters shipped worldwide by 2013, and the North American HAN-enabled meter penetration rate will be even higher at 81% by the same year.

How Will Your Business Benefit?

Your business will be able to:

  • Monitor, track, and adjust real-time energy usage
  • Get more accurate billing and create better forecasts
  • Identify energy hogs and adjust consumption to lower bills
  • Reduce the carbon footprint of your business – a trend which is sure to be impacting everyone as government regulations are implemented
  • With real-time pricing, you may choose to run certain business processes based on off-peak pricing
  • Depending on the business type, you may even benefit from shifting working hours based on energy prices (perhaps in manufacturing?)

Additional Resources

Smart Meter – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_meter

Smart Meter News and Information – http://www.smartmeters.com/

Google Map of Smart Metering Programs around the World. Maintained by Smart Metering Project Team at the Energy Retail Association in the UK.

Will your business’s electric meter be getting an upgrade? Let us know by leaving a comment below!


© 2010, Jeremy Gross. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: Jeremy Gross (10 Articles)

Jeremy Gross is a beginner blogger who has always been drawn to the idea of the triple bottom line (planet, people, and profits) and green living. While studying for his B.S. in Business Management with a concentration in Entrepreneurship, he started a small, side business selling organic granola and cookies. Since granola wasn’t as lucrative as he hoped, for the last few years he has been a technically-oriented Business Analyst with a family-and-employee-owned bank in Seattle. Jeremy volunteers with a forest restoration program and an urban agriculture organization. He also enjoys working with plants, building terrariums, and spending time with his wife, daughter, and cat! If you’d like to reach Jeremy, contact him through JeremyGross.com. He’d love to hear from you!

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  • http://www.bluelineinnovations.com Mitch Mitchell

    There are many varied reasons for the utilities to upgrade the grid infrastructure and it will happen. But what is even more powerful is we know that consumers are becoming more interested and engaged in their electricity consumption. It’s a big budget line item and for a long time we have just accepted and paid it each and every month. We really see consumers getting much more interested in becoming more active in managing electricity consumption and taking steps to drive it down. $’s and cents are the primary motivator but there is also a great deal of satisfaction taken for doing the right thing and making a difference.

    What we know definitively is access to better information – real time information can make a huge difference in reducing electricity consumption. There are many academic, utility sponsored and manufacturer sponsored research studies and the general conclusion is just better information alone can reduce consumption by 5-15%. For a family spending $100 – $250 per month on electricity that’s a big deal. The aggregated potential impact from millions of homes reducing their consumption by 5-15% is huge for the economy and the environment.

    The utilities will bring solutions to the market……but there are proven energy monitoring options on the market today. For as little as $100 families can gain access to this real time information today and begin to take control of this important issue and important monthly budget item.

    We have been in the business of real time electricity information since 2003 and it’s gratifying to see this momentum. For more information go to http://www.bluelineinnovations.com.

  • http://www.cose.org/blog Tim Kovach

    As someone who works on energy and sustainability issues for a small business organization, I am encouraged to see the growing market penetration of smart meter technology. Utility meters throughout the United States are extremely outdated, and it is time for this upgrade to occur. I am particularly pleased that this is taking place on account of the environmental benefit and potential cost savings potential of these technologies.

    For the average small business in our membership, energy makes up the second largest expense, trailing behind only health insurance. It can often be difficult for small businesses to have the knowledge and wherewithal to reign in energy consumption and escalating costs. I hope that the real time capacity of these meters will help our members to learn more about their electric use and develop effective strategies to conserve, save money, and mitigate their impact on the environment. Our local energy utility is scheduled to roll out a pilot smart meter program sometime this summer, so hopefully that goes well and the program expands significanly within the next 6-18 months.

    I also hope that this will provide a boon to small businesses and startup companies who are looking to get into this field. It is good to see that local, state, and federal governments are taking proactive steps to provide the funding to get this technology moving ahead with some sustainable momentum. The US has fallen well behind Europe in a number of capacity on issues such as this, so I am pleased to read that we will soon pass Europe for the percentage of users equipped with this technology.

    Despite my optimism, however, I also hold some reservations and concerns. For one reason or another, smart meters have been met with skepticism and dissatisfaction by customers across the country. Many users have seen their monthly bills spike significantly and have been provided little guidance or understanding as to what the cause for this may be. Though it is possible that the meters are simply providing a more accurate portrayal of these individuals’ actual usage than the old-style meters, this does not immediately eliminate the fact that consumers are not going to be pleased with higher bills, regardless of the cause. I simply hope that governments, utilities, and manufacturers of smart meters can work together to fix these bugs in future installations so that there is not a sustained outcry against the technology.

    This is an important piece of the puzzle in cutting US greenhouse gas emissions; we need to make sure that we get it right.

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