Distribution automation presents opportunities in smart grid


Despite having one of the most mature smart grid markets in the world, only half of the US residential electricity meter market is equipped with two-way communicating advanced metering infrastructure (AMI),  leaving ample room for further growth. Distribution automation presents the greatest opportunity in the US over the next decade according to Northeast Group’s latest study.

US utilities are projected to invest some $110 billion in smart grid infrastructure over the next decade, with additional investments being made in battery storage, home energy management, wide area measurement and IT.

“Several of the largest investor-owned utilities in the US have already completed their smart meter rollouts, but there is still an opportunity of $12.8 billion over the next decade for AMI vendors,” according to Ben Gardner, president of Northeast Group. “Even for those utilities that have already finished AMI deployments, there are very significant opportunities in distribution automation and other market segments.”

With each state determining its own regulations, there is a wide variance of smart grid deployment progress across the country, with 25 states having completed less than one quarter of their AMI deployments—ten of which are below 5%. Distribution automation (DA) investment is projected to be the largest market segment over the next decade.

There is also a convergence of AMI communications increasingly being used for DA applications.

The smart grid vendor landscape in the US is primarily led by local vendors. These include leading metering and communications vendors such as Aclara, Cisco, Honeywell, Itron, Sensus, Silver Spring Networks, Trilliant and others. Other US vendors such as Eaton, GE, Oracle, S&C and SEL dominate other smart grid market segments.

The leading smart grid vendors from abroad have also staked a claim in the US market, including Landis+Gyr as well as grid vendors ABB, Schneider Electric and Siemens, among others.