Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) represents a shift from traditional utility metering to a sophisticated system that uses smart meters, communication networks and data management to enhance the management of energy resources. With the development of residential, small commercial and community solar installations; the deployment of electric vehicle charging stations at homes, businesses and public spaces; and the increasing popularity of battery energy storage solutions, AMI will be even more important to help manage the next-generation energy grid that is no longer a delivery-only system.
AMI is a comprehensive system used to gather and transmit energy production and consumption information between utility customers and service providers. Unlike manually read utility meters, AMI meters automatically collect and transmit data at frequent intervals, often every 15 minutes or more frequently, if necessary. This data will become increasingly more valuable as utility system managers account for the ever-increasing variety of production and consumption now available.
Customers also have access to real-time data regarding energy consumption or production. By providing more transparent data, management decisions can be refined to promote energy conservation and efficiency, leading to lower utility bills. This data can also be used to more quickly identify service disruptions and outages, minimizing customer inconvenience. This resolution also provides better utility location data to pinpoint trouble spots and reduce customer downtime.
Utilities with AMI technology can adopt dynamic demand pricing to better match the supply and demand of the electrical grid. This pricing model provides incentives for customers to better manage their energy usage and incentivizes energy conservation during peak demand and higher prices, versus lower demand and off-peak pricing. With the continued influx of weather-dependent, renewable electricity-generating resources, the utility customers and providers can benefit by the data given through AMI technology.
While AMI offers numerous benefits, it also presents challenges, particularly in terms of data security and privacy. Safeguarding customer data and the integrity of the communication networks is paramount. Utility companies must invest in robust cybersecurity measures to protect against threats. Redundancy in grid systems and the availability of dynamic data to inform utility managers of potential threats will be crucial to the reliability of the future electrical grid.
As the inflow and outflow of electricity becomes more variable between the customer and provider, AMI systems will play an increasingly important role in managing this new, dynamic electrical grid.
If you want to learn more about AMI, reach out to Matt Heyen at email@example.com.