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US Smart Meter Penetration Reaches the 50% Range

Recently, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released its 15th annual report on smart meter penetration in the US. They found that advanced meter penetration rates for each of the residential, commercial, and industrial customer classes reached at least 50% for the first time.

Let’s dive deeper into the numbers. From 2017 to 2018, the number of advanced meters in operation in the United States increased by 7.9 million to a total of 86.8 million, according to FERC. The 86.8 million advanced meters come from a pool of 154.1 million meters, a 56.4% penetration rate and an increase of 7.9 million advanced meters, according to Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The growth comes as the business case evolves. Initially, energy companies touted the cost savings they gain by avoiding labor-intensive, manual meter reading and the need to replace aging legacy meter infrastructure that had reached the end of its useful life. Recently, distribution systems became more complex (e.g., the addition of customer-sited distributed energy resources). Increasingly, regulators focus on reducing costs for customers.

But continuing penetration may hit roadblocks. The benefits that customers gain has always been hazy. New challenges are arising, for instance, states are removing requirements that utilities provide direct, real-time data on customer energy usage. So, how aggressively utilities push the smart devices is an open question.

Smart meters have been deployed in the US for 15 years. Their penetration rate has been slowly and steadily inched up, but new market forces may slow even the modest increases.

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Paul Korzeniowski's picture

Thank Paul for the Post!

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