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Smart-Meter Manufacturers May Become Powerful Gatekeepers Between Retail Energy Companies, Customers

For retail energy companies, managing data once meant nothing more complex than processing analog meter readings and customer billing information. However, the advent of the smart home, along with the wave of digitization sweeping the industry, is creating major opportunities to tap into an explosion of fast-moving, complex big data in compelling new ways.

Customers are now generating as much data on the grid as they are on social media. As of 2013, 40 percent of U.S. households had smart meters. In the European Union, the devices are expected to be installed in 60 percent of homes by 2019. Eventually, smart meters will be capable of generating a massive stream of detailed data about energy consumption patterns almost in real time.

Information is also flowing from a host of other connected smart devices and appliances—everything from heating systems and refrigerators to electric cars and phones. These products generate reams of energy consumption data, and the companies that manufacture them are threatening to become powerful gatekeepers between customers and retail energy companies. Services such as Opower and devices such as Google’s Nest thermostat already automatically monitor energy consumption and, in the case of the Nest, adjust usage in response to human behavior.

We predict that by 2020 nearly everything in a home will be capable of generating data that can be monitored online and through a device.

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