Conference: Smart Metering Canada 2007
Location: Toronto, Canada
Presenter: Michele Marzola
Abstract: Presented by Michele Marzola at Smart Metering Canada 2007

In this paper we will illustrate the four generations of technologies that utilities can adopt to improve their metering infrastructure and their distribution operations. Many utilities understand that the first generation, based on standalone meters, is not viable anymore in front of increasing requirements on distribution efficiency and customer service.

The second generation of Automated Meter Reading (AMR) has shown its validity only in those countries where the mandated frequency of monthly readings is compounded with very high labour costs.

Many utilities are starting to see the fundamental benefits of Automated Meter Management (AMM) and investments are happening in many parts of the World, supported by new regulations and laws.

This third generation of technology is however limited by the bandwidth available in both power line communication solutions and in direct GPRS or radio solutions.

AMM cannot manage vast amount of events in real time and is not a viable technology to deliver value-added services. We can see that the fourth generation of technology is coming to the fore.

The integration of Broadband Power Line technologies (BPL) and AMM create powerful Smart Grids that manage Energy, Data e Telecommunication at the same time, with a very efficient single investment.

This feature is particularly interesting in Emerging Markets, where Governments can complete the electrification and strengthen the coverage of advanced telecommunication services at the same time.

The economics of Smart Grids are very attractive, with benefits generated for the utility, the customer and the overall economy.

Many examples around the World indicate that benefits can exceed investments by more than 20 times.

We will review the first example of Smart Grid, which is today operating at ASM Brescia in Italy, one of the most innovative and profitable utility in Europe. The paper will conclude with a practical approach to start sizing the benefits that any utility can expect from Smart Grids in its specific environment.