Posts for category "Opower Labs"

7 reasons why utilities should be using machine learning

  • By Ben Packer
  • March 24, 2015


In the past year, you’ve probably heard something about machine learning. This branch of science, which involves crunching massive datasets to find hidden patterns, is helping companies solve problems that used to be unsolvable. Machine learning algorithms keep spam out of your inbox, and sound an early warning when someone else might be using your credit card. Down the road, they might save your life.

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We plotted 812,000 energy usage curves on top of each other. This is the powerful insight we discovered.

  • By Erik Shilts and Barry Fischer
  • October 13, 2014

teaser 1.1We all know that not everyone uses energy the same way. Some of us shut off all the lights when we leave in the morning until we get home at 6 p.m., others crank up the AC in the mid-afternoon. But, how does a utility go about uncovering these kinds of patterns for hundreds of thousands or millions of customers?

It starts with data of course. By combining detailed energy data along multiple dimensions — such as time, geography, and weather — you can then tease out key similarities and differences among types of energy users.

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This neat data algorithm unlocks the power of smart grid technology—without using smart meters

  • By Justin Spradlin, John Vint, and Barry Fischer
  • July 29, 2014

Smart meters continue to transform the global utility landscape, offering cutting-edge features for energy providers and consumers alike — from outage detection to real-time consumption feedback.

In the US alone, the number of installed smart meters has approximately quadrupled over the past 5 years. These meters are collectively generating more than 1 billion usage data points every day — enabling vital data insights for utilities and their customers.

The smart grid is growing fast in other regions, too. European Union member states have collectively invested around 4 billion USD across hundreds of smart grid projects over the past decade. The UK is targeting nationwide smart meter coverage by 2020. And Japan’s largest electric company is working to equip all 27 million of its customers with advanced meters.

As projects like these unfold, smart meters are becoming the industry norm. But some regions are farther ahead than others. The Edison Electric Institute predicts that by 2015, only around half of US states will have smart meter penetration rates higher than 50 percent.

Smart Meter Penetration by 2015

Some states are farther ahead than others with smart meter installations. (Source: IEE Edison Institute, August 2013)

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About Opower Labs

Opower Labs is the official voice of our world-class software development team. In our blog, you’ll find our opinions and musings about coding techniques, trends in big data processing, visual design and user experience, and other topics that are on our minds.