- Itron meters will soon feature built-in analytics and device disaggregation capabilities provided by Bidgely, under a partnership announced Thursday by the two utility services companies.
- There are close to 100 million smart meters on the U.S. electric grid, and analysts say further integration between the hardware and analytics capabilities is one way to unlock new opportunities for utility savings and distributed resource integration.
- While the growth of advanced metering infrastructure is helping to drive grid modernization and greater energy efficiency, recent analysis by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) shows most utilities are not getting full value from their smart meter networks.
Itron and Bidgely say their meter-integrated analytics offering is a direct response to utility requests for proposals seeking joint solutions for AMI data that could include better integration with utility demand management programs. And the two companies believe it may be the industry’s first hardware+software bundle for smart meter analytics.
Analysts say this offering could fill an important need in the industry.
"Adding further built-in analytics capabilities to AMI does have the potential to drive value for utilities," Navigant Research Analyst Jessie Mehrhoff told Utility Dive in an email.
While utilities are still rolling out smart meters at a steady clip, there are concerns about whether the devices are being used to their fullest capabilities.
Smart meters can facilitate a number of use cases, from time-of-use rates to conservation voltage reduction. But experts say most utilities with the devices on their system do not take advantage of all their potential.
There were about 98 million smart meters deployed in the United States at the end of 2019, according to the Edison Foundation Institute for Electric Innovation. And the investor-owned utility group says that total will likely reach 107 million by the end of this year.
Failure to optimize AMI investments could lead regulators to deny cost recovery and endanger future investments, say grid experts.
New data streams from device disaggregation capabilities, and the ability to better understand customer consumption, are both helping to evolve demand side management (DSM) and integrated distributed energy resource programs, said Mehrhoff.
Itron and Bidgely say the new technology offering will give utilities visibility into appliance-level energy usage, which can be used to improve energy efficiency or drive customer engagement in DSM programs.
Some uses for integrated meter analytics could include developing clearer insights into how to manage locational grid constraints, improving utility program marketing, and planning for non-wires alternatives, said Mehrhoff. "Utilities are asking for data outputs in digestible, easy to act upon formats," he said.