Miami, FL, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — March 31, 2009 – “We are seeing things in our industry today that one year ago were but a distant dream,” said Chris Bennett, executive vice-president and chief strategy, policy and business improvement officer at Florida Power & Light (FPL), in the opening keynote of the 10th Metering, Billing/CIS America event last week.
With the event taking place against the backdrop of the global economic crisis, Bennett pointed out that while this is presenting challenges for the industry, “the flipside of challenge is opportunity.”
And the opportunity that was one of the main topics of discussion at the event is the funding that is being made available through the stimulus package. While some feel that it may lead to a slowdown in AMI and smart grid deployments as projects are put on “hold” to enable them to attract funding, the consensus is that will be an important boost to the industry, if the funding is dispersed appropriately.
Encouraging too was the result from a poll in the closing session that 44 percent of respondents feel that their utilities are in a position to take full advantage of the financial injection that the funds will give, with only 28 percent disagreeing.
However, key concerns were the absence of any sort of project guidelines so far and the process for processing of applications.
Another topic that came under discussion was the need for interoperability and almost two-thirds of poll respondents felt that this was a fundamental barrier to creating the smart grid. The consensus was that IP is emerging as a de facto standard, but that in itself does not ensure interoperability as it may be wrapped in a proprietary protocol. The industry needs to collaborate more to develop true device interoperability.
A further area that was discussed in depth was around meter data management and 87 percent of respondents felt that meter data management systems are a source of tremendous business value for utilities. However, so far few if any utilities are fully exploiting all the data that is collected and some are using the data for no more than billing.
The 10th Metering, Billing/CIS America conference and exhibition took place from March 22-25 in Miami, FL, and attracted 500 participants from 21 countries. FPL was the host utility and JEA the participating utility. Sponsors included Elster, e:so, Lockheed Martin, Silver Spring, Echelon, EFR, Sensus, Oracle Utilities, Enspiria Solutions, Itron, Master Meter and Olameter.