75% of US households have smart meters – report

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107 million smart meters are estimated to have been installed in the US by the end of 2020, the Institute for Electric Innovation has reported.

The report, which can be considered as a reliable indicator of the market amid various different sets of figures, states that 99 million smart meters had been installed as of the end of 2019.

Results from the Institute’s survey and approved plans lead to the 2020 year-end figure of 107 million. Further 115 million smart meter deployments are projected by the end of 2021.

The data indicates that more than half of the states, particularly across the southern portion of the US, have achieved a rollout greater than 50% and 58 investor-owned utilities have fully deployed smart meters.

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The findings also indicate that electricity companies are using smart meter data to provide customer solutions, to enhance grid resiliency and operations and to support electric company planning, rate design and distributed energy resource integration.

Smart meters provide a digital link between electric companies and their customers by opening the door to new and expanded services. The level of services and benefits that electric companies offer their customers has increased since they began deploying smart meters more than a decade ago, the report says.

Smart meters are among the technologies electricity companies are using to engage customers with energy management and demand response programmes that encourage them to shift their electricity usage away from peak demand times. As of year-end 2020, preliminary data show that carbon emissions from the US power sector were 40% below 2005 levels, the lowest level in more than 40 years.

As customers expect continual improvements to resilience and reliability, smart meters are key, the report states. For example, smart meter data and analytics provide situational awareness so that crews can be sent to the highest priority outage locations.

On circuits that have switching devices or automation, faults are isolated and outages can be avoided, or a large percentage of customers can be restored within minutes.

The Edison Electric Institute has estimated investments in the US distribution system at more than $41.8 billion in 2020.

The report says that as the role of the distribution grid continues to grow and to evolve, smart meters remain the fundamental building block.

“As electric companies continue to manage, operate, and invest in an increasingly digital energy grid, a critical next step is to continue to utilise the data generated from smart meters as a strategic asset to improve grid operations, use customer resources more efficiently and offer new services to customers.”