Trend: Providing detailed information to electricity consumers (smart metering) increases awareness and decreases consumption.
Smart metering is one of the biggest win-wins available when it comes to reducing our carbon footprint by providing real time feedback on our electricity use. It allows us to see how we are wasting electricity and choose to take action. When Woodstock Hydo's customers were given this information (without any other encouragement to save electricity), their average usage fell by 15%.
In addition, Woodstock Hydro discovered that participants complained much less frequently than other customers. By giving people real time information about their electricity usage it empowers them to make their own decisions, and the better information they have (if accompanied by the tools to manage the new information), the better decisions they will make.
Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) is just completing a year long trial of time-of day pricing, and the preliminary results indicate that when customers have the controls necessary to program or cut their usage of high consumption appliances such as air conditioners, either ahead of time or remotely, their usage decreases most.
... the strong economic case for smart meters means that smart meters could easily be one of the first energy efficiency measures rolled out by many utilities.
The leading pure-play company in smart metering is Itron, Inc (NYSE: ITRI.) Itron does not have the field to itself, since energy management companies such as EnerNOC (NasdaqGM:ENOC) (previously covered here), and Comverge (NasdaqGM: COMV) offer similar products and services to utilities. Also, conglomerates such as GE and networking services companies such as Echelon ,(NasdaqGM:ELON) also compete in the area..
The competitive forces in this rapidly growing sector are intense, and it is difficult to pick winners in a market whose customers are dominated by regulated utilities.
Woodstock Hydro Pay as you Go program
New York Times article on time of day pricing (subscription only)