Smart grid execs: AMI/DA potential very high

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New research from Zpryme reveals smart grid executives' justification for investing in advanced metering infrastructure and distribution automation.

The research, sponsored by Elster, reveals that 21 percent rated reducing peak energy consumption as the top justification for investing in advanced metering infrastructure, while 28 percent rated improved grid reliability as the top justification for investing in distribution automation. Sixty-nine percent of executives strongly agree that the potential for utilizing aspects of electricity's advanced metering infrastructure within distribution automation is very high.

The findings reveal that utilities will benefit the most from DA-AMI convergence in the short-term, but customers will win over the long-term, as these technologies give them more choice and control of their energy usage, a more stable grid, and lower electricity bills. Further, distribution automation plays a critical part in integrating renewables, distributed generation, and advanced demand response applications.

Responses regarding AMI and smart metering reveal that executives believe 50 percent of utilities in the U.S. are very familiar with smart electric meters. However, only 20 percent and 15 percent said utilities were very familiar with smart gas and smart water meters, respectively.

The top perceived benefit for utility customers appears to be better management of energy and resource usage. Executives rated better peak energy usage control and better asset management as the top utility benefits.

"Almost four out of 10 respondents indicated that reliable communication networks/devices was the technology most critical in smart meter deployments," said Jason S. Rodriguez, CEO and director of research at Zpryme. "Utilities that design their smart meter and smart grid communications architecture to integrate with next generation (future) smart grid technologies will significantly reduce their overall implementation costs."

Executives also have very specific views on smart grid policy.

"About half of the smart grid executive respondents feel national smart grid policies or goals should be put in place, while 40 percent prefer for polices to be set at the state level," said Rodriguez. "Similar to renewable portfolio standards for solar and wind production, industry stakeholders will be looking for explicit commitments from governments to ensure the long-term viability of the industry, especially as smart grid government funding dries up over the next year or two."

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