The current electric grid was designed over 100 years ago. As a provider of safe, reliable energy it has performed exceptionally well. It has helped to drive a century of economic, industrial and social innovation and growth. Now, new smart grid technologies promises to deliver a fresh set of benefits for the 21st century.
Grid 2.0, as it is sometimes called, will connect distributed energy sources, integrate grid controls, improve grid security, increase operational efficiency, increase transmission efficiency and deliver consumer facing benefits though energy efficiency. Broadly, smart grid developments can be split into demand-side and supply-side technologies. While many of the hottest new trends are built around two-way communication between assets and the utility, be they smart home appliances or neighborhood transformers, utilities cannot overlook the most common smart grid devices, AMI 'smart' meters.
A comprehensive smart meter analytics strategy will be a key component of the grid of the future. The ability to process, store, query, analyze and visualize vast AMI meter data sets is essential to improve our understanding of how our customer consume energy. Over 50% of all residential customers already have a smart meter, but penetration varies by region and electricity provider, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data from 2017. Investor-owned utilities are at over 52% AMI deployment, while Cooperatives and Public Power utilities have 66% and 36% penetration rates, respectively. Generally speaking, utilities in the Northeast and Upper Plains lag behind in AMI installation, while utilities in the South and Midwest are ahead of the curve.
This understanding of AMI data can be used to deliver more effective programs, predict future energy use and trends, inform better rate structures and increase consumer satisfaction.
The technology required to achieve these outcomes is still being developed. Most utilities, however, are moving now to establish their strategies and make sure they are in the best possible position to capture the benefits on offer.