Smart meter penetration in North America will reach 50 percent by 2016

According to new a research report from the analyst firm Berg Insight, the installed base of smart electricity meters in North America will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 22.5 percent between 2010 and 2016 to reach 87.4 million at the end of the period.

Over the next five years, smart meter penetration among residential electricity customers in the US and Canada is projected to increase from around 20 percent in mid-2011 to more than 50 percent by the end of 2016. Berg Insight anticipates the region will have close to 100 percent penetration by 2020.

Tobias Ryberg, senior analyst, Berg Insight and author of the report, said:

“North America has been at the forefront of metering innovation for many decades and is now embracing the latest smart technologies that improve grid performance.”

The US federal government and many states have successfully stimulated the demand for smart metering solutions through a combination of financial incentives and regulatory requirements. Full-scale rollouts are now underway at nearly half of the largest investor-owned utilities, as well as among hundreds of municipals and electric cooperatives.

California and Texas have passed legislation that require smart meters for all electricity customers and regulators in other major states such as Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Georgia have given their approval for smart meter plans proposed by utilities. In Canada, Ontario completed the first major rollout of smart meters in early 2011 and new projects now underway in British Columbia and Québec are set to boost the penetration for smart metering in the country to around two-thirds of the households.

According to the report, wireless mesh networking technologies dominate the smart meter communication marketplace in North America. Most of the leading vendors provide solutions that use the license-free 900 MHz frequency band. Alternative technologies such as cellular networks and power-line carrier are however starting to gain more traction. TNMP, an electric utility with 230,000 customers in Texas, will deploy the first large-scale smart metering system in the US using point-to-point GPRS communication until 2016.

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