Smart Grid market research

The Rural Smart Grid 2013: A Survey of Utility Deployment, Expenditure and Strategy

Each year, GTM Research, in collaboration with the Rural Smart Grid Summit (RSGS), conducts a survey of key decision-makers from a diverse group of rural utilities in order to provide insight into that key emerging market segment. The findings presented in this report are based on a 41-question survey covering everything from AMI to distribution automation and grid storage.

Rural electric cooperative utilities (co-ops) serve over 13% of all U.S. customers, yet fewer than 30 (of over 900) of these utilities serve more than 100,000 customers. These co-ops own over 40% of the nation's distribution lines and their collective service territories cover about three-quarters of the nation's landmass.

FIGURE: What do you consider to be the most important applications of a smart grid?

Source: GTM Research

Today, they are slightly more advanced than municipal utilities in terms of their smart grid deployments to date. Despite being early adopters of technologies like AMR, rural utilities will deploy smart grid technologies at an incremental pace, spending approximately $2 billion less than their municipal counterparts in the next five years. However, the benefits of smart grid technologies indicate that these utilities will continue deploying them well into the future. GTM Research anticipates that U.S. co-ops’ smart grid expenditure will total $1.1 billion in 2013.

FIGURE: Selected Large Rural Co-Ops’ AMI Deployments

Source: GTM Research

This survey was conducted and published in conjunction with the Rural Smart Grid Summit (RSGS).

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Report Author


Zach currently serves as a senior analyst on the Grid team at GTM Research. Prior to GTM, Zach worked at Bloomberg, where he spent part of his tenure at New Energy Finance, contributing to the research and insight stream on the energy smart technologies team as well as consulting on a project for a leading global investment bank. Prior to Bloomberg, he served as a consultant at HydroEnviromental solutions, an environmental consulting and engineering firm. Zach graduated Cum Laude from Cornell University with a BS in Natural Resources and a minor in Nutritional Science. At Cornell, his undergraduate research focused on the policy issues surrounding the development and commercialization of alternative fuel vehicles in the United States. He is currently pursuing a Master’s of Science at Columbia University with a concentration on energy and sustainability.

Follow Zach Pollock on Twitter@zachpollock

Report Author


  • Zhen Ge
  • Analyst, Smart Grid
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Zhen Ge currently is a member of the Smart Grid team at GTM Research. Her past research publications include analyses of public perceptions of risk and the implications for emerging technologies. Her research has been accepted for presentation at a number of international conferences, including Society for Risk Analysis Conference, Nanotoxicology Conference, and International Conference on Science Communication. In 2011, Zhen interned at the United Nations Development Program as a research assistant, focusing on the policy and economic issues of climate adaptation technologies. Zhen holds a master’s degree in technology systems and management from SUNY Stony Brook and a bachelor’s degree in materials science from Fudan University in Shanghai. Zhen is fluent in English and Chinese, and is conversational in Japanese.

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