In an effort to improve efficiency and control over national energy use, the United States government has been encouraging utilities to transition toward a smarter electrical grid. Although the initiative has suffered several setbacks, the long-term plan of integrating smart meters into the majority of U.S. homes is well underway.
According to a tracking report by Pike Research, a market intelligence firm, nearly 58 million smart meter installations are being planned by more than 90 utility companies.
“Smart meter installations have grown by leaps and bounds in 2010,” said research analyst Jevan Fox, in a statement. “But while we estimate that about 21 million smart meters will be installed in the U.S. by the end of this year, utilities have already planned for many more as deployment programs continue to gain momentum over the next few years.”
Meanwhile, the success of the smart meter push may have more to do with stimulus funding than the widespread acceptance of the technology from consumers. In fact, utility customers in Texas and California have sued electricity providers over the initiative, claiming that already-installed smart meters have routinely charged them for more energy than they consumed, according to Reuters.
Even with apparent consumer upheaval, the smart meter push will most likely continue to gain momentum. The federal government has invested well over $3 billion in stimulus funding to entice utilities to transition away from conventional meters, which tend to waste massive amounts of energy.
The government's involvement in the global energy conservation initiative has done a great deal for smart meter manufacturers, which have seen sales skyrocket in the past few months. Switzerland-based meter manufacturer Landis+Gyr leads this charge, accounting for 26 percent of the market in the third quarter of 2010, according to the Pike Research report. Other major manufacturers in the space include Sensus, Itron, GE Energy and Elster.
For more information on where the smart grid is headed, check out this exclusive interview with Joaquin Silva, CEO at On-Ramp Wireless. During the interview, Silva touches upon the security ramifications of smart grids and the importance of 4G wireless in the implementation of such initiatives.
Tammy Wolf is a TechZone360 copy editor. Previously she was assistant to the editor at The Darien Times, a weekly newspaper in Darien, Conn., where she edited submissions, did page layout and design and helped manage the newspaper's website. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Tammy Wolf