Our Thinking

Report: smart meters in US now generating more than 1 billion data points per day

  • By Jordan Jakubovitz
  • September 20, 2013

Another day, another billion data points.

Such is life for the nation’s 46 million smart meters — up from 36 million in May 2012  — according to a new report released this month by the Edison Foundation, which tracks the adoption of innovative and efficient technologies among electric utilities.

Smart meters, which enable real-time communication of energy usage data between customers and their utility companies, generate electric usage readings at least every hour and in many cases every 15 minutes. The vast majority of these meters are installed at the residential level.

 The number of installed smart meters in the US grew by 33% between May 2012 and July 2013 (Source: IEE  – Edison Institute, August 2013)

While these raw numbers are no doubt impressive, what matters most at the end of the day is not the quantity of smart meters or how much data they produce. More important is how we can use the technology and data to give people insight and control over their energy usage. And across the country, forward-thinking utility companies are doing just that.

Many of the utilities recognized in the IEE report — several of whom are among Opower’s program partners — are rolling out smart meter deployments with a focus not just on realizing grid operation improvements, but even more so on delivering benefits to customers. High-resolution meter data opens up opportunities for utilities to empower customers with insights and tools that give them unprecedented control over their energy use and costs.

 By 2015, 15+ states will have smart meters deployed to more than half of energy customers (Source: IEE  – Edison Institute, August 2013)

Here are just a few of examples of smart meter data’s potential to empower customers, as evidenced by the ongoing work of Opower’s utility partners:

  • Personalized analysis and advice: Granular data makes it possible to identify unique attributes of each customer and provide data-driven advice. For example, if a customer’s heating and cooling system is performing inefficiently, advanced analytics can help pinpoint the problem and recommend a solution.
  • Near real-time consumption feedback: Visibility into hourly and sub-hourly electric usage allows customers to optimize the timing of their power demand, and identify opportunities to switch to lower-cost rate plans or earn incentives for shifting their usage to off-peak times.
  • Abnormal usage detection: High-resolution meters give customers the ability to receive data-driven notifications that help them manage their energy costs. If a customer’s usage is trending toward a high monthly bill, a triggered alert can help give them the information they need to stave it off.

For more details on the potential of smart meters to deliver benefits to utilities and customers alike, check out the archived recording of yesterday’s Opower webinar, “Get Smart: How big data can drive the next wave of customer engagement.” You can also learn more about Opower’s pioneering commitment to making the most of big data — while fully protecting data privacy and security — by reading our Data Principles.

Note: Conservatively assuming an hourly read cycle (i.e. 24 reads per day) for all 46 million meters reported in the IEE study, the aggregate amount of data points generated exceeds 1.1 billion per day, though in reality the tally is much higher than that.

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Our Thinking is just that: it’s the place to find out what’s going on right now in the Opower universe. We discuss current perspectives, opinions, ideas, achievements, and events in the burgeoning fields of energy information, data analytics, and utility customer engagement.