Smart-grid ROI tops priorities for 2014: Tantalus survey

Return on investment (ROI) and value from smart-grid investments is the most important smart-grid issue that needs addressing in 2014, according to a new survey from Tantalus.

The smart-grid communications player said that 41% of respondents chose ROI and smart-grid value as the number-one issue they face this year, with 28% flagging the need to address ratepayer concerns as their chief priority.

The survey included more than 45 of the company’s North American utility customers and was conducted during October 2013.

According to Tantalus (Raleigh, NC, USA), the findings reflect predictions made in early 2013 that utilities would start to focus on adding niche applications – to leverage their initial investments and demonstrate value to customers – as they completed Department of Energy-funded and basic smart-grid network deployments.

Add-on applications came out in the survey as the top utility investment priority for 2014, while continuing or competing existing deployments of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) ranked second, ahead of security enhancements and increased customer education.

Tantalus says time of use rates and demand management are the top two smart grid applications survey utilities will implement in 2014.

Respondents were also asked to rank the value of benefits gained from AMI.

The three most popular responses were the ability to receive outage and restoral notifications, reduction in truck rolls and improved customer service.

“The results of this survey reflect the trends and shifts we’ve been experiencing with our municipal and cooperative customers,” said Tammy Zucco, the chief marketing officer of Tantalus.

“The industry as a whole is maturing as many utilities have now completed or are several years into their AMI deployments,” she added. “We’ve grown with our customers and are now seeing a much more technology savvy utility customer base which is focused on working closely with partners like us to implement results-driven and cost-saving AMI applications.”