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Electricity Monthly Update

With Data for October 2011  |  Release Date: Dec. 21, 2011  |  Next Release Date: Jan. 30, 2012  |  
Re-Release Date: November 28, 2012 (correction)

Previous Issues

Highlights: October 2011

  • Mixed temperatures led to flat retail sales of electricity during October 2011.
  • Coal-fired generation decreased or was flat across the United States except for the Central region when compared to October 2010.
  • October's electric system load remained in the mid-to-low section of the annual range in many electric systems across the United States.

Key Indicators

  Oct. 2011 % Change from Oct. 2010
Total Net Generation
(Thousand MWh)
309,400 0.5%
Residential Retail Price
12.12 2.2%
Retail Sales
(Thousand MWh)
285,156 -0.9%
Heating Degree-Days 259 8.8%
Natural Gas Price, Henry Hub
3.68 4.0%
Coal Stocks
(Thousand Tons)
156,880 -10.7%
Coal Consumption
(Thousand Tons)
69,627 -1.8%
Natural Gas Consumption
603,724 1.6%
Nuclear Outages
17,851 -0.5%

State Policies Drive Growth in Smart Meter Use

Plans and requirements for installation of smart meters adopted in eleven states appear to be paying off in significant increases in meter penetration rates. These meters, known as AMI or Advanced Metering Infrastructure, use two-way communication to connect utilities and consumers and support demand response and distributed generation. The numbers reported to EIA for 2010 show a significant uptick in the number of meters using two-way communications.

AMI technology can provide usage data to both the utility and the consumer. This capability, when combined with real-time prices, time-of-day, or other pricing options, gives consumers the information they need to alter their usage and, in some cases, lower their bills. Customers who can manage their energy use can save money and conserve energy, which, collectively, can contribute to reduced need for additional power plants (and the significant capital costs associated with new generating capacity).

Smart meter penetration rates vary significantly by state (see the first map below). While the 2010 national average penetration rate was about 14 percent, rates in 7 states exceeded 25 percent and another 6 states had rates above the national average. No smart meters were reported in use in eight states.

It is interesting to compare these state-by-state penetration rates with the results of a recent Smart Grid study conducted by the consulting firm Science Applications International Corporation for EIA. The study provides a summary, by state, of adopted or pending legal and regulatory policies related to the smart grid. The report provides 23 case studies of smart grid pilots and programs in the United States including both "successful or progressing projects," and "cancelled or postponed projects." The report also presents research on international smart grid projects.

AMI legislations and policies have been adopted or are under consideration in most states (see the second map below). The map shows that eleven states have adopted smart meter plans and requirements. AMI requirements are pending three more states. All but eleven of the remaining states are studying smart meter policies.

The two maps show that 6 states that have adopted AMI plans and requirements have penetration rates greater than 10percent. Use of smart meters does not always require government action. Some states with no smart grid policies still have some significant AMI penetration, such as in Idaho, Wisconsin and Florida.