Increased usage in smart metering technology will create new opportunities for energy retailers to provide customers with innovative pricing, analysts from research and advisory services firm Energy Insights predicted in a recent study published last month.
"Although the business case for installing smart metering is getting easier, analysts expect that laws and regulations mandating smart metering will be the primary driver of smart metering installations by utilities," said Jill Feblowitz, program director of Energy Wholesale Strategies with Energy Insights. "Once smart metering is mandated, energy retailers and customers will be able to reap the benefits of time-based pricing."
Feblowitz is the author of Metering Gets Smart-Managing Smart Metering Data to Serve the Customer (Doc #EI10058). The study defines smart metering, describes the context for initiatives, and reviews software applications, along with the application development and deployment infrastructure required to derive the full benefits of smart metering installations. Legislators and regulators are taking a prominent role in laying the groundwork for smart metering installations, based on interest in making more dynamic pricing options available for customers. Feblowitz asserts that the most innovative pricing will allow the customer to automatically program devices to respond to a price signal sent via the smart metering device or other channels.
Although early efforts concentrated on hardware, installation, and ongoing support costs of smart metering, utilities are now recognizing the importance of meter data management and software applications for smart metering installations. For example, Ontario, Canada, is considering a province-wide installation of smart meters. Based on estimates of the Ontario Energy Board, data management costs in the beginning of the smart metering program could amount to as much as $11 million dollars a year.
"The energy retailers and meter data providers should not approach a project of this magnitude hoping to build systems as they go. The landscape is littered with examples of companies that have implemented homegrown patchwork systems to handle smart metering," said Feblowitz.