Prepayment for electric, gas, and water is a way of life for many countries - and for good reason. It helps customers budget their utility money and helps utilities avoid bad debt without the need to collect and track deposits. Prepayment has gained increased attention in the last several years. The primary reason is that customers switching from credit card billing to prepayment almost always reduce their electricity consumption.
The amount of advanced metering1 in the United States grew significantly in the last two years according to a recent survey by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
The results of the 2008 FERC Demand Response and Advanced Metering Survey (2008 FERC Survey) indicate advanced metering penetration (i.e., the ratio of advanced meters to all installed meters) reached about 4.7% for the United States by the end of 2007 (Figure 1). This is a significant increase from the 2006 FERC Survey, when advanced metering penetration was less than one percent. Recently announced contracts and plans to install advanced metering should increase this penetration in future years. Increased reliance and growth in the use of advanced metering should also be supported by policies at the federal and state level. In particular, recent focus on smart grid investment as a means to stimulate the U.S. economy will increase the importance of advanced metering.
Fast forward to the year 2020: In this year’s headlines we see a continued erosion of dominant electric utilities’ stock prices. The US Supreme Court ruled that electric utilities can no longer compete unfairly with consumers’ ability to generate power. In this proceeding, the leftist group “Power to Compete” had fought a 7-year battle arguing building electric generation is an individual right that supersedes societal needs currently met by utilities. In a related case, the court also struck down “eminent domain” as they concluded it is unconstitutional; therefore, utilities can no longer build transmission lines without land owners’ consent. Earlier in the year, in its annual shareholder’s meeting, Y-Haul announced profits surged for the fourth straight year due to its acquisition of portable car battery maker B456. Finally, GGL Energy Services Company announced its completed acquisition of Steady Energy, the largest international microgrid engineering company. Adding to their fleet of generator and storage product companies, GGL is now positioned to build miniature utilities for communities and businesses to offer more reliable renewable energy sources for their homes and facilities than their local utility can provide.