ACEEE: US smart meters not used to full potential

Last update on Jan. 21, 2020.

ACEEE: US smart meters not used to full potential

USA approaches 70% smart meter rollout, but benefits are not always being delivered.

US utilities are not exploiting the full potential of advanced metering infrastructure, according to a new report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Advanced smart meters are considered to be the foundation of a digitised electric grid and have reached almost 70% deployment in the US. But ACEEE revealed that only one utility – Portland General Electric – was using the data from its smart meter fleet for the six functions identified: near-real-time energy use feedback to customers; behaviour-based programmes with customer feedback and insights; time-of-use (TOU) rates; programmes using data disaggregation; grid-interactive efficient buildings; conservation voltage reduction or volt/VAR optimization.

Simply having a smart meter by itself does not deliver benefits, ACEEE says in its report Leveraging Advanced Metering Infrastructure to Save Energy. The utility needs to engage the customer with incentives and pricing strategies that change behaviour. Utilities will be able to provide more services to their customers such as demand response programmes if they can overcome workforce challenges, data access and sharing issues, and difficulties communicating the benefits and costs of AMI to key stakeholders, ACEEE concludes. Regulators should encourage utilities to better leverage AMI by including energy-saving benefits in regulatory proposals, then adjusting shareholder compensation based on performance in realizing those benefits. Protocols for data access, and performance standards for metered energy savings, should be established and innovation should be encouraged, ACEEE recommends.

“We are rapidly moving from a system marked by large, centralized resources with one-way flows of energy and information to an advanced grid marked by distributed, decentralized, decarbonized resources with two-way flows of energy and information,” says ACEEE Utilities, State, and Local Policy programme fellow Dan York. “Greater energy efficiency and flexible loads will be hallmarks of an advanced grid. Our research shows how AMI is a powerful tool for helping customers and utilities manage and reduce their energy use and costs, benefitting both. Most utilities do not currently capture these benefits and should take steps to maximize AMI to save energy.”

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