Nearly every utility knows they are moving toward the day when customer meters will provide the range and volume of information that fundamentally changes the business model of the industry, forever. That day may be one step closer. 

Microsoft partner Itron announced in late May some exciting news about its successful test of its Itron Enterprise Edition Meter Data Management (MDM) product, a key building block component for Advanced Metering Infrastructure solutions. Built upon SQL Server 2005 and SQL Server 2008, the MDM test compiled data from 4.5 million meters, every half-hour, or the equivalent of hourly data for 9 million meters. The test imported over 200 million intervals of data and served to ensure that MDM meets the needs of large utility companies and can scale to the increasingly sophisticated  advanced metering infrastructure solutions that are being introduced or piloted in programs across the industry.

Itron’s press release contains a lot of great information about test results, but what’s important to note about the tests is the flexibility of the systems. In my view the state of AMI is in its infancy and companies are making all sorts of decisions about how they will set up their frameworks.  Right now there’s no right answer to how to do it – that will evolve over time, just as other utility solutions for customer care, asset optimization and business intelligence have. The key though is having flexible technology systems in place that can handle the tremendous onslaught of data that AMI will produce. 

For instance, while the tests measured data every half hour, there’s really no standard in place to suggest that every 30 minutes is the right interval. Many utilities are leaning towards 15 minute interval data. Some have talked about five minute intervals, but the value of going to that granularity is very questionable. Who knows? The key is having reliable IT systems that can handle the decision, whatever it turns out to be. 

We congratulate Itron for its successful effort in bringing us closer to the day of AMI. - Larry Kuhl