IoT Strategy

Smart meters, data analytics, and BYOD

by Tom Kerber | Feb. 2, 2015

Parks Associates attended DistribuTECH this year to talk with executives, gather information on the pulse of the industry, and understand new and emerging trends, specifically focused on the consumer perspective.

Smart Meter Trends

The next generation of meter deployments will take advantage of what early adopters have learned from utilizing smart meters as a sensor in the distribution network. For example, many utilities use a select group of meters as bellwether sensors for each circuit in the distribution network to optimize transformer and capacitor bank settings. Smart meter vendors have previously stated that no utility uses smart meters as a real time sensor for volt/VAR control, but many utilize meter data as a secondary control loop. Given this and many other applications, some of the new RFPs require AMI and backhaul networks to communicate meter data every five seconds to the head end, which is radical improvement over accessing 15-minute data every 24 hours, and will enable many compelling consumer applications.

Modeling

Data analytics are playing an increasing role in every aspect of utility operations. New solutions include the capability to model the cost to serve an individual customer. Modeling the cost allows utilities to forecast and actively manage their operational costs through economic dispatch of demand response (DR). Furthermore, modeling the cost to serve individual customers enables precise targeting of marketing resources for demand response and energy-efficiency programs to obviate infrastructure investment. This type of data analytics is now being utilized in California and is taking hold in other areas as well.

Bring Your Own Device Programs

Bring your own device (BYOD) programs are gaining momentum, leveraging the roughly 10 percent of broadband households that currently own a smart device with energy management features. Smart thermostats are the most commonly owned smart energy device -- adoption had increased from 5 percent in the first quarter of 2014 to 8 percent in the third quarter. Smart lighting products are similarly popular, with an adoption rate of 6 percent. As penetration of these devices moves closer to mass adoption, utilities are leveraging the assets in their territories to enhance energy efficiency and demand response efforts.

The new, more cost-effective, pay-for-performance, bring-your-own-thermostat demand response business model leverages customer-owned thermostats. In doing so, it offers customer choice, uses both vendor and utility marketing, has multiple installation channels, and reduces the utility's financial risk.

The BYOD approach is a more cost-effective DR business model that rewards both consumers and thermostat vendors for participation. Under this type of program, the utility pays thermostat vendors a recruiting fee and potentially an annual fee to manage DR events.

Utilities and smart product vendors understand the complexity associated with working with a fragmented industry. Aggregators allow utilities to connect to a single entity that manages the relationships with the growing list of smart product and service providers. By partnering with multiple vendors through an aggregator, utilities make sure that customers have a choice of what to buy, where to buy, or using an already-purchased thermostat.

Parks Associates' sixth-annual Smart Energy Summit: Engaging the Consumer will be held Feb 16-18 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin and brings together the smart home and utility industries to discuss challenges and opportunities for partnerships. For more information, visit www.ses2015.com.




Tom Kerber

Tom Kerber

Director, IoT Strategy

Tom leads Parks Associates research in the areas of home controls, energy management, and home networks. Tom authors numerous reports on energy management and home controls covering the evolution of technology, partnership opportunities, and new business models. Tom’s work at Parks Associates includes managing consumer surveys that track trends and market opportunities and enable insightful evidence-based forecasting for energy, security, and home controls. Tom speaks frequently at key industry events, and his views are sought out by national press organizations and publications.

Tom has done extensive consulting with electric utilities operating in a variety of regulator structures and numerous firms within the smart home ecosystem. Recent utility engagements include defining the home area network roadmap for a California IOU, updating the consumer engagement strategy for a traditional vertically integrated IOU, providing consumer and industry analysis to refine EE and DR programs for an IOU in a restructured market, and providing insights on the evolution of the connected home for a large Midwest IOU. Tom has also led projects for many Fortune 500 companies, helping clients refine smart home strategies, develop scenarios of the future of the smart home market, enhance product roadmaps, and refine specific product features.

Prior to working at Parks Associates, Tom worked as director of engineering and director of product management in multiple industries. Tom began his career in the U.S. Navy nuclear power program on submarines. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the U.S. Naval Academy in systems engineering and a master's in software engineering from the University of Texas.

Industry Expertise: Residential Security, Smart Home Products and Services, Home Network Technology, Software Systems, Electric Utilities, AMI, Home Energy Management, Demand Response

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