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Advanced electric meters continue steady adoption in U.S., pick up in the Middle East.

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Christopher Neely's picture
Independent Local News Organization

Journalist for nearly a decade with keen interest in local energy policies for cities and national efforts to facilitate a renewable revolution. 

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  • Dec 30, 2022
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Out of the estimated 159 million electric meters in the U.S., more than 103 million, or roughly 64 percent, of them in 2020 were advanced smart meters, a sign of a steady modernization of the U.S. electric system, according to a new report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. 

Between 2016 and 2020, an average of 8 million new advanced meters have been installed in U.S. homes and businesses. The Edison Foundation's Institute for Electric Innovation projects that by the end of 2022, 124 million advanced smart meters will be operating in the U.S. Advanced meters are a child of the data and digitization age of electric utilities, and allow two-way sharing of energy usage information between the user and provider over a wireless internet network. 

The U.S. southwest has had the widest adoption of advanced meters anywhere in the U.S., with 81 percent of all meters across residential, commercial and industrial customers being advanced meters. The region where they are the rarest? New England, where only 23 percent of all meters are advanced meters, well below the U.S.'s overall percentage of 64 percent. 

Electric meter upgrades are happening elsewhere too, namely in the Middle East, where Saudi Arabia has installed 10 million smart meters over 18 months, between 2019 and 2021, and Dubai has installed over 2 million. Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain have also picked up their pace in implementing smart meter tech for energy customers. 

The installation of advanced meters is only the first step into a world of possibilities, such as entering into utility programs that allow for time variable electricity rates, as well as providing data to grid operators on real-time usage so they can plan adequately. It also gives grid operators a more careful eye over the health of the grid and the ability to monitor issues with pinpoint accuracy.

Where there is a sharing of massive amounts of data, there are safety and security concerns among customers worried that their personal power data is being transmitted securely. However, in a rapidly digitizing world, customers must weigh the payout between the options. Grid resiliency, more accurate/transparent billing and local control over energy usage may be worth the compromise. 

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