The average utility with at least one smart meter program in place has increased the frequency of its data collection by 180 times from just once a month to every four hours, according to a report from Oracle.
The Big Data, Bigger Opportunities: Plans and Preparedness for the Data Deluge research report, which surveyed 151 North American senior-level executives at utilities with smart meter programs, found information collected by utilities is typically tied to critical operations, such as voltage, outage and interval data, and is used to support business decisions, improve service reliability and enhance customer satisfaction.
While data collection has increased dramatically, utilities say they are only somewhat prepared to manage it, rating themselves 6.7 on a scale of 1 to 10.
Of those surveyed, 45 percent still struggle to report information to business managers as fast as they need it, and 50 percent says they miss opportunities to deliver useful information to customers.
For example, 78 percent of utilities surveyed are collecting outage data and only 59 percent are using that information to support business processes and decision-making.
Utilities say a lack of talent, ability to visualize and comprehend the data and limited processing speed are their biggest challenges. Other issues include data search and retrieval, capture and access.
The 116 respondents who provided an estimate plan to spend an average of $178 per customer over the next five years to move smart metering and the smart grid forward. In the next five years, 76 percent plan to provide customers with information about their usage patterns, 68 percent plan to implement or improve conservation and efficiency programs and 65 percent expect to launch demand response programs.
Global smart grid spending is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 17.4 percent from 2010 to 2015 to reach $46.4 billion, according to a report released this spring from IDC Energy Insights. A separate report released the same week by Pike Research predicts the global smart grid market, worth $1.1 billion by the end of 2011, will grow at a CAGR of 15.2 percent through 2017.