Smart metering on the rise in Canada

IDC Energy Industry Insights Community –

Earlier this week, I provided a brief overview of findings from IDC Energy Insights' recent research regarding the US Smart Meter market. IDC Analyst Adam Hazdra has previously commented on smart metering trends in EMEA.

Much like the push from State legislation in the United States, the pace of Smart Meter deployment in Canada has been driven by Provincial action. The installed Smart Meter base in Canada surged past 5 million in 2010 largely on the strength of Ontario's push towards full deployment. IDC Energy Insights estimates that more than 95% of the nearly 4.7 million eligible endpoints in Ontario had been outfitted with smart meters by the end of 2010.

Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Quebec have all flirted with smart metering, though, other than Fortis' PLC deployment in Alberta, installations outside of Ontario have been modest. IDC believes that British Columbia, lead by the full deployment of BC Hydro (slated to begin mid-2011) will lead the next wave of smart meter deployment in Canada, followed by Quebec and Saskatchewan.

By the Numbers

Elster has dominated the Canadian Smart Meter market, but trailed Sensus (almost 50%) in 2010 installations, as the majority of Elster deployments in Canada were completed in early 2010. Landis+Gyr has been a distant second behind Elster in total installed Smart Meters.

RF-Mesh based solutions have been even more dominant than in the United States and have captured approximately 90% of the Canadian Smart Meter communications market. While Elster's EnergyAxis solution leads Canadian RF communications in total connected endpoints, a major win with Hydro One in Ontario has given momentum (and 40% of the RF mesh market!) to Silicon Valley smart-grid startup Trilliant.

In a departure from market dynamics in the United States, utility coalitions and consortiums have played a significant role in vendor selection in Ontario. The London Hydro Smart Meter Consortium Project, representing 1.8 million endpoints, and a separate coalition of 5 major Ontario utilities (more than 1.5 million endpoints) have driven the RFP process in Ontario.

Developing Market

While Ontario will achieve full deployment earlier than either California or Texas, the two States leading the Smart Meter charge in America, IDC Energy Insights forecasts that Smart Meter deployments in the rest of Canada will trail deployment in the United States. Outside of BC Hydro, relatively few major utilities have advanced AMI implementation plans. The political situation remains murky even within British Columbia; just months after the end of the Gordon Campbell regime, new B.C. Energy Minister Rich Coleman cautioned BC Hydro to justify their proposed rate hike, while, in 2009, the British Columbia Utilities Commission rejected FortisBC's application to install 108,000 AMI-enabled meters.

In comparison to the United States, IDC has observed a greater tendency amongst Canadian policy makers and utilities to favor caution over the desire to become a first mover. Some utilities, such as Newfoundland Power, have explicitly expressed a desire to await the maturation of the smart meter industry, noting that standardization of communications protocols and increased manufacturing capacity will drive down unit costs and improve the cost effectiveness of smart meter technology.

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