Forecast has munis leading the next smart grid investment round


By: SGN Staff

While sometimes overlooked in the smart grid world, municipal utilities are forecast to account for almost $7 billion in smart grid investments through 2017.


That nugget of news is from a report by GTM Research in partnership with the Municipal Smart Grid Summit. The report is based on a 37-question survey conducted with decision makers in a variety of munis over two years.


The report explains that more than 75% of investor-owned utilities are already working on smart grid initiatives, but munis were generally overlooked in the first wave of smart grid spending. That, apparently, is changing. Some community-owned utilities have initiated or completed smart grid projects, but it appears that many others are shaking off the "wait and see" attitude and willing to take the plunge.


For the sake of background, munis are a little different than the utilities that get most of the attention. They're smaller - of the 2,000-plus munis in the U.S., about 1,400 have service areas with less than 10,000 customers, according to the American Public Power Association. While the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the largest muni, serves 1.4 million customers, it's an exception. In total, munis serve more than 46 million customers throughout the country (except Hawaii).