Impact of Data-driven Smart Meters on Utilities
Utilities have set in place over 60 million smart meters in North America during the past ten years. These smart meters are generating massive amounts of data which the utilities now have to figure out a way to manage. Unlike the traditional meters that used to be read only once a month, the smart meters are swamping utilities with readings every 15 minutes, summing up to almost 35,000 readings annually.
However, this upsurge in data also has the capability to transform the interaction between utilities and customers. For instance, Direct Energy, a Texas-based reseller of electricity, has resorted to data analytics by teaming up with Opower. In case the energy consumption rises above the desired levels, alerts are sent to customers in order to take proper actions. The data emanating from smart meters also notifies the users about malfunctioning of any of their electrical appliances, thus preventing unnecessary consumption costs. Thanks to these meters, utilities will surely be able to comprehend a lot more about their customers in the near future.
Utilities are also focusing on data that streams in from the grids. For example, a Canadian utility named Hydro One Inc. has installed cutting-edge sensors that help locate equipment in need of repair. In addition, these sensors are equipped with a feature to ping individual components of equipment in order to monitor their condition. Furthermore, utilities are relying on providers of these data-related capabilities including startups as well as big companies like IBM and Oracle instead of developing them on their own.
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By Matt Wakefield, Director, Information, Communication and Cyber Security, EPRI