Utility companies failing to harness smart grid potential

Electricity firms across Western and Eastern Europe and the Middle East are pushing ahead with smart grid plans, but are failing to  take full advantage of the opportunities presented by intelligent networks, Oracle has said.
In a survey of industry executives, Oracle found that utilities are making progress towards the implementation of smart grid infrastructures. However it warned that they will not be able to  reap the full benefits of the technology because they are not considering the key capabilities it delivers.

Of those surveyed 56 percent said they expected to have smart meters rolled out within five years, while some have already deployed or have begun or plan to begin a phased programme for the adoption of smart meters.

Half are concerned that their current IT applications will not be able to scale to their needs or investment. Just under half of those surveyed said they expected to achieve return on investment from smart meters in five years, whereas nearly a quarter don’t know when this will be achieved.

Many are pushing forward and notifying customers – with 62 percent saying they had begun informing their clients as to why smart meters had been installed. A further – 18 percent said they did not have a communication plan in place to help educate their customers.

Just over a third of utilities said they already had in place new systems, which were able to store the additional data from Smart Metering and extract intelligence from it, and another third said they expected to have these installed within five years. However, there was a lax 12 percent which admitted that they had not begun to assess the systems and a further 12 percent, which said they had no plans at all to put this in place.

According to Oracle, harnessing the information from smart meters has the power to maximise improvements being made to a utility’s business and its ability to enhance efficiencies such as providing accurate customer billing, improving field operations and supporting renewable generation.