Importance of “Hard Benefits” in AMI Business Cases

Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) technology offers a multitude of new functionality for electric utilities and their customers.  Operational benefits for the utility include over-the-air meter reading, remote connect/disconnect, real-time outage detection and many others.  From a customer perspective, the benefits most often cited are the ability to take advantage of time-of-use incentive rate programs, monitoring energy use in real-time by installing an in-home device and the ability to track historical energy usage via the web.

While the benefits from all of these areas have the potential to be significant, the initial data from existing AMI deployments show that the level of customer interest in electric usage data, incentive rate programs leveraging interval data and in-home devices is generally low and still in the “early adopter” stage.  Recent developments within the industry such as Google’s purchase of NEST for $3.2 billion may result in products and services that have greater appeal to the mass consumer market.

In the interim, electric utilities need to rely on the portions of AMI functionality that they can fully control and execute on, such as over-the-air meter reading to improve read-rates and lower operating costs, remote connect/disconnect to reduce truck rolls and real-time outage information to improve the efficiency of the outage management process.

By developing AMI business cases and implementation plans that focus on realizing  more controllable operational benefits, utilities are more likely to obtain the initial and continued support from their respective governing body.

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