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North American Advanced Metering Infrastructure growth sluggish

The market for Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) in North America is not progressing as quickly as the industry hoped, with growth in 2009 and 2010 expected to be limited, according to a report from the ARC Advisory Group.

In spite of the best efforts of utilities, suppliers, government, and regulators, and a previously expected double-digit growth in the area annually, the North America market for AMI and Smart Grid is expected now to see only a fraction of this growth over the next two years.

AMI is a system that measures and collects data for energy usage across various infrastructure sources such as gas meters, electricity meters, and water meters. This information is then collated and can be drawn upon at various intervals or on demand for government, service providers and research.

The ARC study cites several factors still inhibiting rapid growth of the AMI and Smart Grid market. Among these are immature standards for meter communications and Home Area Networks (HANs), fragmented regulatory authority, and the long project sales and implementation schedules of electric utilities.

“AMI is a foundational piece of the future smart grid,” said ARC senior analyst, Harry Forbes, in his report: ‘Advanced Metering Infrastructure and Smart Grid Outlook for North America’.

“Yet the existing standards for meter communication are very immature compared with Internet technologies, as indicated by the lack of multi-vendor device interoperability. Also, it has been a challenge to scale some of these new HAN technologies to installations of only 1000-2000 endpoints, let alone several million. Utilities are reticent to vastly scale up their AMI installations at huge expense given the present level of technology risk and the rate of technology development.”

A budget application for an AMI network in Victoria, Australia was presented to the government in February this year by Jemena Electricity Networks (Vic) Pty Ltd.

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