Smart grid expenditure for rural cooperative utilities in the US is estimated to reach $4.1bn in 2017, according to a new report from GTM Research.
The latest figure accounts for nearly 10% of the nation’s cumulative smart grid market over the next five years.
The report, ‘The Rural Smart Grid 2013: A Survey of Utility Deployment, Expenditure and Strategy’, forecasts that rural utilities will continue to focus on advanced metering infrastructure (AMI).
Rural electric cooperative utilities, which serve more than 13% of all US customers, are also predicted to focus on distribution automation technologies.
These utilities own more than 40% of the country’s distribution lines and their service territories together cover around three-quarters of America’s landmass.
GTM Research analyst Zach Pollock highlighted the need of examining new utility demographic opportunities outside of the investor-owned sector.
"Despite being early adopters of technologies like advanced meter reading (AMR), cooperative utilities will spend the least amount of money on smart grid investment over the next five years when compared to municipal and investor-owned utilities," said Pollock.
"In addition, the pace of deployments will be much slower and more fragmented than the rapid deployments we witnessed post-stimulus.
"The relatively small cooperative market will have a polarising effect on the vendor landscape, and we expect vendors deeply entrenched in the co-op space to strengthen offerings, while new entrants will likely focus on recognizing high growth opportunities in new geographies."
In 2013 alone, the GTM Research report expects that the smart grid expenditure by the rural co-operative utilities will total $1.1bn.
Image: US rural cooperative utilities are expected to focus on AMI and distribution automation technologies. Photo: courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.