Vendors battle it out while utilities await common communications protocols.
Scott M. Gawlicki is a Fortnightly contributing editor and energy industry writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AMI standards face a classic chicken-and-egg dilemma. Does an electric utility need to establish functional and technical standards in order to develop an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) program? Or must the utility develop and then implement an AMI program in order to build the functional and technical standards needed to support it?
“The whole idea of AMI standards is a pretty tricky subject,” says Mike Burns, a senior production manager with metering vendor Itron Inc. “Establishing the standards is really an evolutionary process. Certain standards are driven by adoption. First you have to see what people are doing and what works.”With the Energy Policy Act of 2005 requiring both electric utilities to institute time-based rate schedules and public utility commissions to promote AMI programs, the standards-making process is generating plenty of ink these days.
Electric utilities, regulatory bodies and trade organizations from Canada to Texas continue wrestling with standards-related issues. Utilities have implemented pilot programs and a few are in the process of actually implementing major AMI programs that will encompass entire service territories.
So how are the AMI standards needed for the smart grid build-out currently being developed?