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Smart meter

A Smart meter generally refers to a type of advanced meter (usually an electrical meter) that identifies consumption in more detail than a conventional meter; and optionally, but generally, communicates that information via some network back to the local utility for monitoring and billing purposes (telemetering).



The term "Smart meter" typically refers to an electrical meter, but the term is also starting to be applied to the measurement of natural gas and water consumption.

Similar meters usually referred to as time-of-use or interval meters have existed for years but Smart Meters usually involve a different technology mix such as real-time or near real-time reads, power outage notification, and power quality monitoring. These added features are more than simple AMR (automated meter reading). Smart Meters are also believed to be a less costly alternative to traditional interval or time-of-use meters and are intended to be implemented on a wide scale to all customer classes, including residential customers. Interval and time-of-use meters are more of a legacy technology that historially have been installed to measure commercial and industrial, but typically provide no AMR functionality.


Since the inception of electricity deregulation and market driven pricing around the world, government regulators have been looking for a means to match consumption with generation. Traditional electrical meters only measure total consumption and as such provide no information of when the energy was consumed. Smart meters provide an economical way of measuring this information, allowing price setting agencies to introduce different prices for consumption based on the time of day and the season.

Electricity pricing usually peaks at certain predictable times of the day and the season. In particular, if generation is constrained, prices can rise significantly during these times as more expensive sources of power are purchased from other jurisdictions or more costly generation is brought online. It is believed that billing customers by how much is consumed and at what time of day will force consumers to adjust their consumption habits to be more responsive to market prices. Regulatory and market design agencies hope these "price signals" will delay the construction of additional generation or at least the purchase of energy from higher priced sources thereby controlling the steady and rapid increase of electricity prices.

Implementation Examples


The world's largest and arguably "smartest" smart meter deployment was undertaken by Enel SpA, the dominant utility in Italy with over 27 million customers. Over a 5 year period beginning in 2000 and ending in 2005 Enel deployed smart meters to its entire customer base.

These meters are fully electronic and truly smart, with integrated bi-directional communications, advanced power measurement and management capabilities, an integrated, software-controllable disconnect switch, and an all solid-state design. They communicate over low voltage power line using standards-based power line technology from Echelon Corporation to Echelon data concentrators at which point they communicate via IP to Enel’s enterprise servers.

The system provides a wide range of advanced features, including the ability to remotely turn power on or off to a customer, read usage information from a meter, detect a service outage, detect the unauthorized use of electricity, change the maximum amount of electricity that a customer can demand at any time; and remotely change the meters billing plan from credit to prepay as well as from flat-rate to multi-tariff.

In various publications Enel has estimated the cost of the project at approximately 2.1 billion Euros and the savings they are receiving in operation of 500 million Euros per year, an astonishing 4 year payback and a testament to the power of next-generation advanced metering systems.


The Ontario Energy Board in Ontario, Canada has actively strived to define the technology [1] and develop the regulatory framework around their implementation. Smart meters will be installed in 800,000 homes by 2007, with an eventual goal of 100% penetration by 2010.[1]

United States

Other jurisdictions such as California are actively pursuing the same technology [2]. On July 20, 2006, California's energy regulators approved a program to roll out of conventional meters retrofit with communications co-processor electronics to 9 million gas and electric household customers in the Northern California territory of PG&E. These meters report electricity consumption on an hourly basis. This enables PG&E to set pricing that varies by season and time of the day, rewarding customers who shift energy use to off-peak periods. The peak pricing program will start out on a voluntary basis, and the full rollout is expected to take five years. [3]. The smart grid also allows PG&E to give customers timing and pricing options for upload to the grid (see vehicle-to-grid).

The largest municipal utility in the U.S., the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), has chosen to expand its advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) serving its commercial and industrial (C&I) customers. LADWP has already purchased 9,000. “Smart meters” measure how much electricity is used and when, and allow utilities to retrieve the data real-time via public wireless networks and the Internet. The utilities’ commercial and industrial customers may in turn tailor their daily energy consumption around this data, thus creating potential for reducing their monthly electricity bill and, at a broader level, contributing to global energy conservation[4].


More than 1 million prepayment smart gas/water/electric meters are implemented by Elektromed in Turkey.


In 2004, the Essential Service Commission of Victoria, Australia (ESC) released its changes to the Electricity Customer Metering Code and the Victorian Electricity Supply Industry Metrology Procedure to implement its decision to mandate interval meters for Victorian electricity customers.

The ESC's Final Paper entitled "Mandatory Rollout of Interval Meters for Electricity Customers" foreshadowed the changes to be implemented and contained the rollout timetable requiring interval meters to be installed by 2013 for all small businesses and residences with new and replacement installation commencing in 2006. The ESC forecasts that within 7 years of the start of the rollout up to 1 million large customers and other customers will have existing meters upgraded to interval meters.

The Victorian government is not alone with other state governments and the Commonwealth issuing a Joint Communiqué at the Council of Australian Governments meeting in Canberra on 17 February 2006 committing all governments to the progressive rollout of smart metering technology from 2007.[5]


The company Oxxio introduced the first smart meter for both electricity and gas in the Netherlands in 2005. In September 2007, the Dutch government proposed that all seven million households of the country should have a smart meter by 2013, as part of a national energy reduction plan.

Nordic Countries

Northern Europe became the hotspot for AMM in Europe in 2003 when Sweden announced the decision to require monthly readings of all electricity meters by 2009. Soon activities spread to the other Nordic countries. Vattenfall, Fortum and E.ON decided to deploy AMM in Finland as well as in Sweden, as the leading industry players in both countries at the time. Developments in Denmark took off in 2004 with several ambitious projects being announced by the country’s largest utilities. Norway has taken a more cautious stance, but in June 2007 the Norwegian energy authority NVE declared that it would recommend new legislation requiring smart meters to take effect in 2013. As of August 2007, almost all of the DSOs in Sweden had signed contracts for AMM solutions. In Finland and Denmark, the share of metering points under contract was 23 percent and 15 percent respectively according to analyst firm Berg Insight. Norway was lagging behind with just 6 percent. Altogether contracts for nearly 8 million smart meters are still open in the Nordic region.


Of all smart meter technologies the critical technological problem is communication. Each meter must be able to reliably and securely communicate the information collected to some central location. Considering the varying environments and locations meters find themselves, that problem can be daunting. Among the solutions proposed are: the use of cell/pager networks, licensed radio, combination licensed and unlicensed radio, power line communication. Not only the medium used for communication purposes but the type of network used is also critical. As such one would find: fixed wireless, mesh network or a combination of the two. There are several other potential network configurations possible, including the use of Wi-Fi and other internet related networks. To date no one solution seems to be optimal for all applications. Rural utilities have very different communication issues than urban utilities or utilities located in challenging locations such as mountainous regions or areas ill-served by wireless and internet companies.

See also

Energy Portal
  • Automatic meter reading
  • Distributed generation
  • Electricity distribution
  • Electricity generation
  • Electricity meter
  • Feed-in Tariff
  • Net metering
  • Utility submeter
  • Vehicle-to-grid
  • Virtual power plant


  1. ^ "Smart Meters: FAQs", Indepth: Energy, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, November 3rd, 2005. Retrieved on July 23rd, 2006. 
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Smart_meter". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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