Redwood Shores, CA, U.S.A. --- (METERING.COM) --- March 23, 2010 - Currently just one in five North American utilities is moving forward with system-wide smart grid deployment but almost all see a future in smart grid technologies and expect wide-scale adoption of smart grid components with benefits accruing to consumers in the next 10 years.

These are among the findings of a new survey of 150 C-level utility executives in the region by Oracle to understand their vision for the next 10 years on how the smart grid will evolve in communities and homes, and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

According to the survey over the next decade, utilities will primarily focus on improving service reliability and operational efficiency, as well as implementing smart metering and developing demand response and energy efficiency programs. However, only a few regarded offering real time pricing options and increasing their renewable portfolio as priorities.

When it comes to moving forward with full smart grid deployments almost half of the larger utilities (>100,000 customers) reported they are taking steps forward with trials or pilot programs, while a third of the smaller utilities (<100,000 customers) are waiting to see what their peers are doing and only 18 percent are moving forward with trials or pilots.

And smart metering is expected to see wide-scale utility adoption most quickly, followed by demand response and critical peak pricing. An increase in sensors on the network and accommodation of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) will be the slowest to see wide-scale utility adoption.

On the customer side the utility executives anticipate increased demand for in-home displays and smart appliances but as yet little demand for distributed energy resources or PHEVs. However, the major concerns are around the transition costs, including the consumer reactions to rate increases and rate recovery, and the executives believe that smart grid success will come through collaboration, such as sharing best practices with peers and developing an information architecture strategy and smart grid standards.

According to Oracle, its take on the survey is to prepare for change, tear down silos, understand and educate your market, develop information management strategies, and share results.

“Smart grid success will require a significant education effort. Consumer participation and engagement is critical – and customers must understand what’s in it for them,” says Oracle, adding: “Many utilities have smart grid questions surrounding investment requirements, ROI, and customer interest levels. To move the industry forward, utilities must engage with industry thought leaders and share their experiences with their peers.”