The benefits of demand response programs is being referenced regularly in business cases for smart metering, so Itron’s recent acquisition of Comverge comes as no surprise.
It makes sense if you look at the trend towards automation and away from behaviour-based demand response, along with the growing adoption of distributed generation and storage. Bringing together smart metering and demand response technologies that can monitor and control the energy consumption of residential and commercial properties, introduces some exciting value propositions for Utilities.
The objective of demand response is to reduce energy consumption during a specified period, so smart meters play a crucial role in its success. Without being able to track a specific moment in time, you have no ability of knowing if customers have reduced consumption during the demand response event.
Some industry peers have shared a view that the connected home will replace the need for metering technologies, that smart thermostats or home-energy platforms will track consumption.
While this may be the case, it will be many years before such technologies are ubiquitous, can track all energy consumption within a property or are accurate enough to bill customers. Until that that time the meter is the single piece of technology that does all of these things, and therefore remains essential to demand response.
The global adoption of smart metering has taken many years, and some Utilities are yet to commit to this direction. Even fewer have made the decision to adopt Automated Demand Response and make it part of their energy portfolio. Utilities often treat smart metering and demand response as two separate investment opportunities and can struggle to justify the value to their board, the regulator and the community they serve.
With this acquisition, Itron will be able to help Utilities take a more measured view, where smart metering, demand response, the connected home, distributed generation and storage are viewed as an ecosystem that can re-shape the way a Utility delivers products and services to its customers.
Is this acquisition the start of vendor consolidation across the smart metering and automated demand response space?
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