November 23, 2010 – The $3.4 billion in smart grid investment grants were expected to pay for about 18 million smart meters over the next three years, and Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the DOE grants were responsible for about 2 million installed meters as of September.
The Pike Research estimate suggests the consumer backlash that has cropped up in certain areas over smart meters — California and Texas power customers have sued over alleged overcharging by their smart meters — isn’t making much of a dent in utility deployments. Regulators in Maryland, Hawaii, Michigan, Indiana and Colorado have asked utilities to shoulder more of the costs of deployment and put less burden on customers’ rates, but haven’t largely put utility installation plans on hold.
While the consumer smart meter backlash probably won’t be going away any time soon, the smart grid industry will be heartened to learn that meter ramp-up stats are on track and higher than expected.
As for the global smart meter picture, Pike predicts a $3.9 billion industry by 2015, with 250 million meters installed. Canada has tens of millions of meters being deployed, Europe has many tens of millions more due by the end of the decade under government mandates (pdf), and Asia — particularly China — is playing an increasingly important role.
While smart meters have gotten the lion’s share of attention in the smart grid space, most analysts agree they’ll be out-spent by the part of the smart grid that controls the grid itself, such as intelligent outage management switches and substation automation networks. So-called distribution grid management took in $1.5 billion in the U.S. this year, compared to $1.1 billion spent on installing smart meters, the Cleantech Group reports.