Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Xcel and Itron collaborate to secure smart meters

Steve Rogerson
October 1, 2019
 
Minneapolis-based utility holding company Xcel Energy has entered an agreement with Itron to secure smart meters to install across its system.
 
The collaboration with Washington-based Itron is to develop smart technology for the energy grid and give customers more insight into their energy usage, while enhancing grid reliability and improving response time to outages.
 
Xcel Energy provides electricity and natural gas service to millions of users in Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Texas and New Mexico.
 
Xcel Energy will take advantage of its existing standards-based, interoperable network from Itron along with Itron’s distributed intelligence platform to manage edge applications from an open ecosystem of providers. Coupled with Itron’s ecosystem of partner applications and devices, the utility aims to manage changing grid conditions to better serve its customers.
 
In addition, Xcel and Itron will deploy distribution automation on the same platform to improve grid reliability and reduce operating costs by extending monitoring and control capabilities to a broad range of distribution devices on Xcel’s electric system. The utility will gain increased visibility into the health and performance of its grid that should improve outage management and restoration responsiveness.
 
The relationship aims to help bring smart meters to Xcel Energy customers over the next five years and create opportunities for software applications, or apps, to help customers transform the way they use energy. Ultimately, the goal is to help people save energy and money, while helping the industry shift to cleaner sources of power on an even more reliable advanced energy grid.
 
“This collaboration is exciting because we’re not just developing the next generation of smart meters,” said Brett Carter, Xcel Energy’s chief customer and innovation officer, and executive vice president. “Combining forces with Itron allows us to work together on new applications to benefit our customers and build the electrical grid of the future.”
 
The new apps are expected to be able to generate real-time energy usage information for homes and businesses, to help customers save electricity and money. The technology will be capable of things such as monitoring the energy efficiency of individual appliances in customers’ homes and allowing for the development of sub-metering for charging electric vehicles. Ultimately, more apps will be developed to provide for things such as flexible billing and, potentially, prepaid electricity plans.
 
“Itron’s proven solution connects millions of devices to deliver real-time solutions to today’s challenges,” said Sharelynn Moore, senior vice president at Itron. “We are thrilled to collaborate with Xcel Energy to improve customer experience by harnessing the connectivity and intelligence of the industrial IoT to deliver smarter solutions.”
 
Smart meters and the support for innovative new apps are an important step in Xcel Energy’s efforts towards building an advanced electrical grid that will supply clean, reliable energy and provide its customers with ways to save money and control their energy usage. Xcel Energy plans to install smart meters throughout its entire service territory, subject to regulatory approval.
 
Xcel Energy provides the energy that powers millions of homes and businesses across eight western and mid-western states. Headquartered in Minneapolis, the company says it is reducing carbon emissions and producing and delivering clean energy from a variety of renewable sources at competitive prices.