Today in Energy

December 6, 2017

Nearly half of all U.S. electricity customers have smart meters

graph of smart electricity meter installations, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Electric Power Industry Report

Installations of smart meters have more than doubled since 2010—almost half of all U.S. electricity customer accounts now have smart meters. By the end of 2016, U.S. electric utilities had installed about 71 million advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) smart meters, covering 47% of the 150 million electricity customers in the United States.

Smart meters have two-way communication capability between electric utilities and customers. One-way meter-to-utility communication, also known as automated meter reading (AMR), was more prevalent before 2013. Since then, two-way AMI smart meter installations have been more common based on data collected in EIA’s annual electric utility surveys.

graph of U.S. advanced electric utility meter adoption, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Electric Power Industry Report

Two-way AMI meters allow utilities and customers to interact to support smart consumption applications using real-time or near real-time electricity data. Smart meters can support demand response and distributed generation, improve reliability, and provide information that consumers can use to save money by managing their use of electricity.

AMI data provide utilities with detailed outage information in the event of a storm or other system disruption, helping utilities restore service to customers more quickly and reducing the overall length of electric system outages.

map of residential smart meter adoption rates by state, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Electric Power Industry Report

Residential smart meter penetration rates vary widely by state. Washington, DC, has the highest AMI penetration rate at 97%, followed by Nevada at 96%. Six other states had a residential AMI penetration rate higher than 80% in 2016: Maine, Georgia, Michigan, Oklahoma, California, and Vermont. In 2016, Texas added the most residential AMI meters of any state, installing smart meters on more than 200,000 customer accounts.

Differences in smart meter penetration rates are often driven by state legislation and regulation, as some states require that regulators approve utilities’ cost recovery mechanisms for metering projects. The Smart Electric Power Alliance publishes reports on state-level actions on advanced metering, among other topics.

Many residential customers may not be aware that they have a smart meter. EIA last conducted the Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) in 2015, a year when residential smart meter adoption was about 44% nationwide. In that year, 22% of households reported having a smart meter, 49% reported not having one, and 29% responded that they did not know. Only 8% of households reported being aware that they had access to hourly or daily data, and just 4% said they had accessed or viewed that data.

Principal contributors: Alexander Mey, Sara Hoff