Smart meters are getting smarter at distributing electricity

As smart meters become more widely accepted in the United States, utilities are investing in more sophisticated models that lower the cost of distributing electricity across the grid.

This new line of smart meters, equipped with devices known as distribution automation applications, expand on the technology to better control and automate how distribution occurs on the  power grid.

The installed base of smart meters for distribution automation applications will surpass $143 million worldwide by 2020, up from $10 million this year, according to a report issued by Navigant Research.

The new technology also is expected to enhance advanced meter installations, which provide two-communication between smart meters and meters for other systems, such as gas or power.

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“Utilities are learning and planning how to more efficiently integrate advanced meter installations and distribution automation systems, and how to overcome the challenges that remain,” said Richelle Elberg, senior research analyst with Navigant Research, estimating that the new technology likely will be the standard for new smart grids by the end of the decade.

Electric grids are separated into transmission systems, which typically operate above 10 kilovolts, and distribution systems, which operate at lower voltages. The distribution automation applications help make the distribution systems in electrical power grids more efficient.

The growth of investment in this market reflects how utilities are integrating new technology to help make electric grids more efficient and cost effective, allowing utilities to better control the transmission equipment for smaller buildings and homes.

CenterPoint Energy, which oversees the transmission lines for most of the state, has completed the installation of roughly 2.2 million smart meters throughout the state.


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