Blog Post

Smart meters now make up 13 to 18% of meters in U.S.

You might only read about smart meters when media reports cover people pushing back on them, but smart meters are steadily being installed across the U.S. While back in 2009, about 6.5 percent of the meters in use in the U.S. were smart meters, that penetration rate has jumped to between 13 percent and 18 percent, according to a recent report from FERC, referencing data from the Institute for Electric Efficiency (IEE) and the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Other reports like one from Berg Insight last month predicted that penetration rates for smart meters is supposed to reach 50 percent by 2016 in the U.S., or just five years from now, and close to 100 percent by 2020. Unlike other networking technologies, like home Wi-Fi networks, smart meters are being mandated and installed by utilities, so the adoption rate isn’t dependent on consumers buying and installing the technology.

The close to $4 billion in stimulus funding from the Obama Administration also played a major role in getting smart meters out there; many of the funded 140 plus projects had smart meter pieces to them. According to FERC, as of Sept. 28, 2011, a little over 7 million smart meters were installed with stimulus money, and ultimately 15.5 million are expected to be installed using stimulus funds. Back in 2009, Obama called for the installation of 40 million smart meters and 3,000 miles of transmission lines.

If smart meters reach a penetration rate of close to 100 percent by 2020, the next steps will be using software, analytics, and other tools to find value with the smart meter networks, and provide value back to the customer. Smart meters, and other digital grid technologies, will unleash a massive amount of data that could overwhelm utilities, but also provide valuable tools for reducing energy consumption and adding in clean power to the grid.

Images courtesy of Portland General and FERC.

5 Responses to “Smart meters now make up 13 to 18% of meters in U.S.”

  1. L.D. Gussin

    Good article and an important to cover. One correction: the stimulus funding came as grants utilities had to match: the actual investment is > 2X.

    A few of Robert William’s issues must be and are being worked on but in a larger context smart grid will be the operating system for our essential global low-carbon energy future.

    California PUC working the issues out (August 2011 decision):

  2. By now most Californians have been arbitrarily forced to submit to the burden of wireless smart meters. Its very late but California Public Utility Commission members are now admitting that they know the meters are “making people sick” and that’s why they are authorizing an “opt out program”.

    As a matter of fact they have ordered Pacific Gas and Electric to start removing smart meters from the homes of people who say they are sick from the meters. So its the beginning of the end for “wireless” smart meters here.

    Their so-called safety never had been established. Where were the pilot studies usually required before exposing large populations? Greed has led to this technological embarrassment.

    At least in California leaders are admitting mistakes. I guess people fleeing their homes to get as far away as they can from wireless smart meters had some effect on their thinking.

    With a little luck and well placed R&D money, energy writers like you will be able to spend your time writing about this country’s success in finally conquering the problem of efficient energy storage instead of the pathetic little anti-consumer smart grid.

  3. I wish my utility (Puget Sound Energy) would go with smart metering. They did try it about 10 years ago, but it was a thinly disguised excuse to raise rates. The earlier program would have charged more for peak (I’m OK with that) but the current rate for off-peak. Obviously that didn’t go over well with customers, so the project was axed.
    I would be happy to join a tiered rate program, but only if I get charged less for using more off-peak electricity than peak.