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Smart meter revolution about to go global

Smart meters increase energy efficiency, cut carbon footprint.

NEW YORK – We live in an energy-obsessed world.

Demand for power increases daily as living standards admirably improve around the globe. But energy supply fails to keep up and prices soar. To make matters worse, greenhouse gas emissions threaten to choke the planet.

As governments, utilities, business leaders and homeowners grapple to find a solution, there is one obvious answer: manage energy better.

This is the singular mission of our 5,000 employees at Landis+Gyr.

A trusted partner for more than a century, we work closely with leading utilities across more than 30 countries on five continents to help them manage energy better by using smart metering solutions.

Smart meters – small, powerful communications tools – provide utilities with a two-way flow of data required to manage energy use, efficiency and demand response and network protection. Consumers benefit from being able to monitor and lower energy costs and carbon footprint in real time. Having a smart meter is like having a speedometer in your car: you can’t fix what you can’t measure.

Smart meters will also enable the future smart home with smart appliances and other household devices that turn off and on remotely to save energy.

Forward-looking utility company CEOs increasingly recognize that smart meters add the necessary brainpower to allow for energy-efficient smart grid distribution networks needed to secure, protect and conserve power supply.

The potential benefits from energy conservation – the “fifth fuel” after coal, natural gas, nuclear and renewables such as wind and solar – are enormous. Some industry experts suggest aggressive investment in energy management could keep demand almost flat between now and 2020.

So it’s no surprise then that the world is on the cusp of a "Smart Meter Revolution."

Today, Europe leads the way in the total number of smart meter deployments.

The first big rollout was in Italy where utility Enel installed 27 million smart meters over the past five years. In France, EDRF, a subsidiary of utility EDF, recently announced the launch of one of the largest smart meter pilot programs in the EU, involving the replacement of some 300,000 old meters. Smart Meters are also being deployed across Sweden and the appeal is spreading across Scandinavia, The Netherlands, the UK and Ireland.

Smart meters are also catching on in other parts of the globe, including China, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Brazil.

And let’s not forget North America. The two biggest US states – California and Texas – have been leading the charge, much like Ontario, the largest province in Canada.

A recent California study found smart meters allowed consumers to cut energy bills by up to 9%. Just a 5% drop in peak demand nationally would eliminate the need for installing and running some 625 infrequently used US peaking power plants, translating into annual savings of 3 billion USD, a Brattle Group study suggests.

Industry estimates that over 500 million old meters worldwide could be replaced over the next 10 years with smart meters, including some 50 million in the US by as early 2010.

By any measure, this is a revolution. However, unlike most revolutions where there are winners and losers, the smart meter revolution is a win-win-win for utilities, consumers and the environment.