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Smart Metering Continues to Evolve

Paul Fratellone's picture
Director Software Products, Tesco

Paul Fratellone’s career in quality assurance and product management began in the mid-1980s and has spanned multiple industries and domains. Through the years, Paul has recognized certain...

  • Member since 2019
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  • Sep 12, 2023

It all starts at the cash register of the utility, a meter. Traditional meters had a life expectancy of about 30 years. In the early 2000’s the first smart meters were deployed in southern California, and they have been given a life expectancy of about 20 years. I have had discussions with many utilities and useful life might be (in their opinion) lower than the 20 years. Regardless, the industry has evolved over the 20 plus years and whether you are moving from AMR to AMI or upgrading your current AMI smart meters to the new AMI 2.0, the meter is just one component in the string of “smartness” in the utility industry. 2.0 smart meters will have more processing power, memory and the intelligence to send more information to the smart grid. This may include voltage fluctuations, power factor changes and set alarms accordingly. With more processing power the ability to send interval from every five minutes to every minute will be in reach. As consumers become more engaged and involved, knowing minute by minute might be something to think about. I’m not so sure that the current consumer is interested in knowing minute by minute data.

Smart meters have delivered on the objectives of reducing commercial losses, energy theft detection and near-real time/real time energy monitoring. Ultimately, the smart meter will be used to change consumer behavior, improve their energy consumption, and increase the accuracy and reliability of energy bills leading to increase customer loyalty. Naturally, the progression of accurate bills can allow the company to introduce innovative tariffs. Smart meters enable consumers to adapt their energy usage to different energy prices during a day (time-of-use, TOU) and consume energy when the prices are at the lowest. Smart, net-energy meters, are pivotal to those consumers who generate electricity by solar panels. A bi-directional smart meter can measure the electricity that household supplies and consumes to/from the grid. The grid manager and operators can receive more accurate information about activities (usage & generation) from different parts of the network and enable more efficient management and investments in the management of the grid.

Looking beyond the smart meter, the head-end system, and meter data management, response & outage systems, distributed energy resource management, demand response will all play a crucial role in the smart grid evolution and its ability to deliver the value to commercial and residential consumers. Since there are many vendors supplying end-to-end solutions across the various components of the smart grid and those that are specific to a particular function, you need to be aware of how these systems will integrate and operate. The will be continued growth in micro grids, battery storage and all will rely on smart, integrated meters and ancillary devices like inverters. The progression to 5G from 4G and other transmission options will cause many vendors to re-think their communication/data transmission strategy. In addition, the “demand response” solutions can help to reduce the peak load using information from the smart meters. The level of expenditure, the losses in the distribution networks, and the volume of investments are key indicators in order to improve the quality of the distribution service due to the implementation of smart metering

Smart metering will have a direct impact on:

  • Increase energy efficiency through transparency of metering information
  • Incentivizing consumers to change their consumption behavior.
  • Decrease of the cost by reducing electricity losses and the costs of meter reading
  • The education of consumers to reduce the consumption at peak load.
  • Reducing the peak load will lead to a decrease in electricity production and the use of power plants with high emissions of carbon dioxide

Embracing the smartness across the transmission, distribution and consumption of electricity is continuing to grow and evolve as more edge devices like smart meters are deployed.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Sep 12, 2023

Embracing the smartness across the transmission, distribution and consumption of electricity is continuing to grow and evolve as more edge devices like smart meters are deployed.

Hopefully this also entails looking at these various steps as a system, not in silos!

Paul Fratellone's picture
Paul Fratellone on Sep 13, 2023

I would hope that the age of silo thiking has been fully replaced with the age of integration and interoperability.  It would be a sad day, especially in our industry if that mindset still exists. 

Thanks Matt,

Paul Fratellone's picture
Thank Paul for the Post!
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