March 21, 2011, 8:41 PM — On March 8, IDC Energy Insights launched the Worldwide Quarterly Smart Meter Tracker, a new data product tracking global deployments and shipments of Smart Meters. Unlike FERC and the EIA, which count both retrofitted electromechanical meters and meters with one-way communications, IDC's tracker focuses on truly 'advanced' metering and communications solutions; IDC defines a "smart meter" as a solid-state electric meter with integrated two-way communications.
Global smart meter deployments have more than doubled since 2005, and several findings have emerged from IDC's research of the US Smart Meter market (my colleague Adam Hazdra commented on the EMEA market here).
Push from Above
While smart meters have slowly been emerging since 2001, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007) and legislation enacted by large, capacity constrained states have ushered in a new era of digital information in the utility industry.
Section 1307 of EISA directed States to encourage utilities to deploy smart grid technology (as defined in Section 1301) and recommended that States allow for rate recovery, including "a reasonable rate of return" on associated CapEx.
Early adopters of EISA's recommendations include Texas and California, two States that had suffered through several rounds of rolling blackouts in the early and mid-2000's. Texas had encouraged Smart Grid deployment even before EISA with 2005 House Bill 2129, and directed the PUCT to establish a rate recovery mechanism in 2007 with HB 3693. Similarly, California enacted Senate Bill 17 in 2009, requiring utilities to file a Smart Grid deployment plan with the CAPUC by July of 2010. Pennsylvania became another early adopter under Governor Ed Rendell, implementing HB 2200 as Act 129 in 2008; Act 129 specifically targeted smart meters, requiring all electric distribution companies with more than 100,000 customers to submit a smart meter technology procurement and installation plan.
Current pilots and deployments in Texas, California, and Pennsylvania represent more than 21 million contracted endpoints, and have helped to drive the smart meter base in America from less than 2 million in 2007 to nearly 20 million by the end of 2010. The next wave of smart meter deployments will be driven by a similar 'push from above' as more than $4.3 billion in smart grid ARRA funding is spent over the next three years.