Monday, July 29, 2013

The Falling Cost of Installed Submetering

Developing energy management insights requires capturing interval data from both the main utility meters and submeters of top energy loads.  Metering costs vary significantly depending on the utility (electric, gas, steam, or water), whether utility-grade metering is required, and the level of installation, maintenance and communication complexity.  

Meters have a wide price range: at low-end Onset HOBO data loggers cost $50 and at the high-end, advanced solutions include $3,000 Rockwell Power Meters and utility grade meters from GE and E-Mon D-Mon.  Fully loaded installed costs (including labor to install and communication setup) range from free (from the utility main meters), to $75, to $9,000.

In the past twenty-four months, several factors have led to a 30 percent drop (our estimate) in the installed cost of electric submetering on a per point basis.  Factors driving this drop include
  • Pricing pressure from new vendor entrants with wireless and circuit monitoring approaches (examples include Powerhouse DynamicsPanoramic Power andOutstart Power Systems)
  • Increased availability of free or low cost interval data directly from utilities and through applications used by utilities from building analytics firms like First Fuel,Retroficiency, or C3 Energy
  • Increased use of meters for M&V in Demand Response which can also be used for building monitoring (EnerNOC installed base DR sites is now over 14,000, up significantly in the last several years.)
  • Increased deployment of digital utility main meters or smart meters
  • Increased availability of trained technicians to install hardware and software
  • Lower cost of communications using Wifi, LAN cellular or radio communications
  • Increased use of temporary metering and logging tools
Collectively these trends are driving higher adoption for companies implementing metering to identify energy savings opportunities.   The reduced cost of installed submeters doesn't solve the problem of energy ownership, but for organizations committed to energy efficiency and with more mature energy management programs, more cost effective options now exist.

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