Many of the smart meter pilot projects going on around the United States are still in the selective mode. As in, they're not really happening at scale, although several companies, including Oncor, have recently trumpeted the fact that they've reached 1 million-smart-meter milestones. When it comes to advanced meter infrastructure -- a related concept -- things are apparently a bit more settled.
An example is Santa Maria, Calif., where a successful pilot program led to the 93,225-person city's recent decision to deploy Sensus advanced metering infrastructure to keep tabs on Santa Maria's water supply. During the pilot, which involved Sensus FlexNet technology, leaks were discussed in approximately 3 percent of the homes in the test area. By fixing those leaks, the city was able to save a half million gallons of water. And that was just in the first 45 days.
In the press release for the project, the city's water resources manager, Shannon Sweeney, says the Sensus technology will reduce the amount of time needed to keep tabs on water usage in the city's 20-square-mile radius. The technology will save an estimated $100,000 per year related to water leak detection, or about 86 million gallons of water per year.
Randolph Wheatley, vice president of marketing and customer operations, says Sensus is squarely part of the action in emerging smart grid projects across the United States, including one that will see close to 4.5 million smart meters deployed by it and Southern Co. Sensus believes strongly that the best way to add more electric capacity in the United States is to control demand and usage better across the grid. "Measurement is the starting point of what you do. The more real time, the better. The more you can provide the end customer with information, the better," Wheatley said during a chat I had with the company in mid-May.
Two things I want to leave you with. First, this is a company that has some ties to IBM; the CEO (Peter Mainz) and the new strategic alliances executive, Matthew Zafuto, is a former executive for IBM's Global Energy and Utilities organization. Should be interesting to watch how those relationships play out. Second, since I interviewed Wheatley, the company has signed another big deal -- this time to provide smart meters for a smart grid project in Bulgaria. The deal, which will use FlexNet, calls for it to be used for measurement and network management. The relationship is actually with Mobiltel, which will work with various Bulgarian utilities to deploy the project.