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December 17, 2012

U.S. Utilities Rally Around the Smart Grid



In the month following the reelection of U.S. President Barack Obama and the brutal “Frankenstorm” power outage on the East Coast, American utilities rallied around the smart grid—with sentiment for the next-generation electric infrastructure increasing by seven percentage points, according to an online survey conducted by Austin, Texas-based Zpryme and the website Fierce Smart Grid.

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Among 276 smart grid executives polled from December 3 through December 13, “Zpryme Smart Grid Index” results indicated that, over the next 12 months, 73 percent of utilities plan to submit new smart grid budgets—with major investments planned in the areas of distribution automation (25 percent); advanced metering infrastructure (21 percent), advanced transmission (17 percent), and customer systems (17 percent). Fully 51 percent of respondents indicated that they believed that a second term for Obama would have a positive impact on the future of the smart grid.

Utilities represented 14 percent of the total sample; industry vendors comprised 61 percent. On the supply chain side, nearly half of the industry vendors said they had closed a new deal within the past month.

While overall results showed a slight dip from the November Smart Grid Index, they were largely positive. The specific figures are listed below (percentages may not add up to 100, due to rounding);

  • Overall Sentiment: 66 percent of the total survey group currently views the smart grid positively— a five percentage point decrease from November
  •  Expected Utility Investments: 30 percent expect utility smart grid-related investments to significantly increase over the next 12 months—a one percentage point decrease from November
  •  Current Sales/Expenditures: 61 percent said their smart grid-related sales or expenditures have increased over the last 12 months—a one percentage point increase from last month
  • Expected Sales/Expenditures: 67 percent expect their smart grid-related sales or expenditures to increase over the next 12 months—a four percentage point decrease from last month
  • Hiring: 54 percent expect the number of staff in smart grid-related roles to increase over the next 12 months— a two percentage point decrease from last month
  • Deals Closed: 45 percent of vendor respondents said they closed new smart grid related deals last month—representing no change in this metric in December
  • New Proposals: 73 percent of utility respondents plan to submit new smart grid proposals for budget approval over the next 12 months—a two percentage point decrease from last month

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Edited by Brooke Neuman
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