Utility Strategies for Smart Meter Innovation: Energy Efficiency Measurement and Verification

Utility industry stakeholders have been debating whether the proliferation of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), also known as smart meters, will change the way energy efficiency program measurement and verification (M&V) and impact evaluation are conducted. Many utilities remain unsure about what is possible based on the advancement of analytic techniques and data granularity. This uncertainty is compounded by the fact that new firms seem to emerge each year, claiming to provide increasingly deep insights into customers’ energy reduction potential (such as appliance-level load disaggregation and building-specific identification and targeting) using little more than consumption data from the utility.

Will AMI change M&V as it is known? It is possible. But if it does, it will likely be more of an evolutionary change than a revolution. If AMI data is broadly available across all customer sectors, it will enhance the traditional M&V model with respect to quantifying costs and benefits. AMI data could be used to lower M&V costs by reducing the frequency of in-depth evaluations. The availability of AMI data presents new opportunities for utilities to gain insights into their programs’ performance in real-time to make mid-course corrections. It also presents opportunities for existing M&V vendors and new players to provide value-added services to their utility clients.

This Navigant Research report examines what is realistic in regards to advanced M&V of energy efficiency program impacts using AMI data in the North American utility industry. The study also provides an analysis of the effects that advanced M&V of energy efficiency programs could have on the broader industry and what drivers could change the current and forecast evaluation paradigms. The discussion in this report is primarily applicable to AMI data used for M&V in North American energy efficiency program evaluation, but may apply more to other regions in the future as AMI proliferates.

Key Questions Addressed:
  • What is advanced metering infrastructure (AMI)?
  • How can AMI be used for advanced measurement and verification (M&V)?
  • How does AMI threaten traditional M&V?
  • How can AMI lower M&V costs?
  • What new opportunities does AMI present for advanced M&V?
Who needs this report?
  • Utilities
  • Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) vendors
  • Data analytics vendors
  • Government energy agencies
  • Independent system operators/regional transmission operators (ISOs/RTOs)
  • Investor community

Table of Contents

1. Executive Summary

2. Introduction and Background

2.1  AMI Deployment

2.2  AMI Energy Efficiency Value Proposition

3. Potential Impacts of AMI on M&V

3.1   Wholesale Energy Markets

3.2   AMI for Mass Markets Brings New Opportunities

3.3   AMI Enhances the Traditional M&V Model

3.3.1   Managing the Effects of Data Analytics on M&V

3.3.2   AMI’s Commoditization Potential for Energy Efficiency

3.3.3   AMI Lowers M&V Cost in the Long Run

3.4   New Roles and Opportunities from AMI for M&V

3.4.1   Growth Opportunities in the New Paradigm

3.4.2   M&V Process Flow Changes

3.4.3   Regulatory Issues

3.4.4   Value-Added Services

3.4.4.1   Evaluating Demand Impacts

3.4.4.2   Delivery Cost-Effectiveness

3.4.5   How Utilities Can Increase Internal Control of EM&V

3.5   Privacy and Security Concerns with AMI Data

4. Conclusions 

5. Recommendations

5.1   Utilities

5.2   M&V Professionals

List of Charts and Figures

  • AMI Unit Installations by Region, World Markets: 2016-2025
  • Behavioral and Analytical Demand-Side Management Spending by Region, World Markets: 2017-2024
  • Energy Efficiency Growth in ISO-NE: 2010-2017
  • Energy Efficiency Growth in PJM Capacity Auctions: 2012-2020

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