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Increasing Efficiency on the Grid: The Benefits of Smart Metering

Neil Bosworth's picture
Head of Vertical Segment Manager IoT Products, Telit Cinterion
  • Member since 2023
  • 1 items added with 542 views
  • Mar 28, 2023

Smart metering is central to citywide smart grid systems and the push toward sustainability. Many major utilities in developed countries have already begun their second and third wave of smart metering projects. Within the United States, PSE&G and Atlantic City Electric – two major electricity providers – plan on installing over 2.3 million smart meters combined by 2024. Smart metering systems connect Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sensors to outlets within various utilities (water, oil, gas, electric, etc.), which collect, analyze and send data via alerts and diagnostics to utility companies for better monitoring, optimization and efficiency.

The benefits of smart metering are multifold – however, the most significant is its ability to increase energy sustainability and create a more efficient energy grid. Specifically, smart metering enables automated reading and measuring of electricity usage, eliminating manual errors for more accurate bills and greater customer trust. Smart IoT-based meters also provide granular, actionable and real-time consumption insights, helping consumers, businesses and utility companies use and manage water, natural gas and other resources more sustainably.

These invaluable metrics and insights are likewise pivotal to improving customer service, delivering electricity efficiently and cost-effectively and increasing power reliability. In addition to enhancing how consumers and businesses use energy, the visibility gained through smart metering technologies helps utilities optimize their systems and grid operations while lowering operational and maintenance costs considerably. Likewise, this information gives customers a better understanding of their energy consumption, empowering them to make data-driven usage decisions.

Another benefit of smart metering is that it reduces the impact of outages through rapid emergency response. With remote monitoring and automatic routing, smart metering removes the need to send technicians physically on-site to identify issues and manually restore power. Remotely resolving outages reduces truck rolls, saving money and decreasing vehicle emissions simultaneously. Additionally, smart metering helps users quickly and remotely detect gas and water leaks and theft; utilities can even connect or disconnect service and balance electric loads remotely with smart metering solutions.

Moreover, utility companies can future-proof themselves by adopting smart metering technology. For instance, the lower power consumption and longevity of best-in-class solutions are conducive to scaling operations cost-effectively. Value-added services, like remote updates and service changes, are made easy through smart metering. Plus, companies can leverage smart metering to streamline the integration of renewable energy sources and serve an even larger customer base. Furthermore, with Demand Side Management, utilities can encourage and incentivize consumers to reduce consumption at peak times, introducing voluntary schemes allowing utilities to remotely control the consumption of certain appliances. 

Connectivity is foundational to keeping smart meter solutions operational. Utility organizations that are looking to implement smart metering solutions will have a variety of options for connectivity standards. The primary connectivity technology, currently, is cellular LPWA – specifically, LTE-M and NB-IoT. However, 5G, including private networks, will undoubtedly lead to smart grid objectives, like real-time energy spike control, load balancing and quicker energy rerouting. Indeed, a smart gird framework with 5G capabilities would bring more intelligence, efficiency and sustainability to the entire energy sector.

In addition to selecting a connectivity standard, utilities will also have to choose the best connectivity module for their solution. While selecting a wireless module, organizations must consider security to ensure the devices are protected against cyberthreats. Power usage will also need to be taken into account as modules that use minimal power can lengthen battery life and decrease the frequency of maintenance.

Beyond connectivity, security and power consumption, utilities should consider many other critical smart meter design factors, including technology longevity, module size, etc. For those looking to implement smart metering – especially utilities – it is advantageous to speak with a trusted advisor with experience in large-scale device installations and a proven ability to provide supply chain support for deployment.

Jim Stack's picture
Jim Stack on Mar 29, 2023

Smart metering has made the monitoring very fast and reliable. A producer can see their entire area and pin point where the problem is for fast resolution. That fact and getting constant power loads and use to help prevent brownouts make smart metering one of the best tools a GRID operator has even had. 

Paul Korzeniowski's picture
Paul Korzeniowski on Apr 10, 2023

Good points. The reality is the technology is available and offers numerous potential benefits, with reduced maintenance a major incentive to utilities. The challenge is sorting through all of the possible configurations. Also, finding software to drive the potential improvements can also be challenging. 

Neil Bosworth's picture
Thank Neil for the Post!
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