AMID WORRIES THAT RESIDENTIAL CONSUMERS MAY NOT benefit from competition comes a study that shows at least one industry will: metering. This market is expected to grow an average of 5 percent per year through 2002.
By 2002, the metering industry is expected to be worth $3.1 billion, up from $2.4 billion last year, says Metering for Utilities: Riding the Wave of Deregulation, a new book from Business Communications Co.
Overall, meter reading systems are expected to log the highest average annual growth rate, about 16 percent each year over the next five years. Automated meter reading software, for instance, will increase from a $98 million market share in 1997 to $210 million in 2002, a 22 percent annual hike.
The study shows 11 percent growth in electric meter sales but a slower pace (5 percent) for gas and water
meters. Electric meters' sales growth is expected to be driven by the information needs of open retail electricity markets. Compared to 1997 values, electric meter sales will increase $185 million, gas meter sales $55 million and water meter sales $53 million.
The electric meter reading system, requiring manual readings, might emerge the only loser, as might be predicted. This segment's market share is expected to drop 15 percent each year over the next five years, from $45 million to $20 million as AMR systems replace old technology.
The study predicts a modest annual growth of 2 percent in meter reading services, already the highest portion of the metering market (em $1.5 billion in 1997 (see graph).